While no regional aircraft manufacturer has committed to a 90-seat turboprop, Pratt & Whitney Canada thinks several operators would launch service with one tomorrow if it existed, and threfore is moving forward with an engine design.
Richard Dussault, VP of marketing for P&W Canada, told reporters in Nashville at a briefing this morning that, because it is becoming increasingly difficult for regionals to make money in short-haul markets because of fuel costs, the company has embarked on defining characteristics for a new 5,000-7,000 shp engine. “We believe that’s the power for the next generation of aircraft,” says Dussault.
The engine design has advanced cooling and a compact compressor, and a fully integrated propeller system, which it is developing with sister company Sundstrand.
The timeline for this next generation of turboprop engine, he says, is three to four years. “If we launched next year for a customer, these are three- to four-year programs, so around 2016 to 2017 [it would] enter into service because it will be a brand new core, so a brand new development.”
Dussault says regional jets have gone from 50 to 70 to 90 seats, bringing great value. “It is a natural evolution of the 70-seat into a 90-seat aircraft so I think if it were available tomorrow, the airlines would go for it.”