Qingdao’s first GTF-powered Airbus A320neo (Image source: Pratt & Whitney)

Early growing pains have not stopped Pratt & Whitney’s GTF engine orders

China’s Qingdao Airlines takes delivery of first GTF-powered A320neo, while Greece’s Aegean Airlines places order for up to 124 engines.
Qinqdao Airlines, a Chinese airline startup based out of Qingdao Liuting International Airport, is the latest airline to received aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1000G high-bypass Geared Turbofan (GTF) engines. The airline took possession of its first single-aisle, medium-range, GTF-powered Airbus A320neo aircraft this week.

The GTF engine, developed by Hartford, Conn.-based Pratt & Whitney, a division of United Technologies Corp., is designed for modern, highly-efficient, medium-rage, narrow-body airliners. Compared to its competitor designs, like the CFM International LEAP, it has demonstrated a 16 percent reduction in fuel burn, a 50 percent reduction in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions to meet current regulatory standards, and a 75 percent reduction in noise footprint.

Read more: Maintaining the data-rich Pratt & Whitney GTF engine


Pratt & Whitney will also provide Qingdao Airlines with engine maintenance through a long-term EngineWise comprehensive service agreement. The EngineWise platform includes Advanced Diagnostics and Engine Monitoring (ADEM), an engine health management service that uses a suite of web-enabled software tools to provide analysis of engine health data for more than 8,000 in-service engines. With that data, Pratt & Whitney and engine operators, like Qingdao Airlines, can use predictive artificial intelligence to make functional recommendations that increase aircraft fuel economy and reduce operational disruptions.

Pratt & Whitney tests a GTF PW1100G-JM engine in the new state-of-the-art A10 Test Stand at the company’s West Palm Beach Engine Center in Florida. (Image source: Pratt & Whitney)

Beyond backlogged deliveries and issues with component suppliers, there have been operational disruptions.

Qatar Airways based out of Doha, Qatar switched an order of 50 GTF-equipped Airbus A320neo aircraft to the same number of Airbus A321neo aircraft with CFM International LEAP-1A engines in 2017 after experiencing uneven cooling with the initial GTF engines.

In India, low-cost airline IndiGo announced that it replaced 69 GTF engines in 18 months. Later, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, India’s aviation authority grounded 11 GTF-equipped A320neo aircraft after three midflight engine failures the occurred over a two-week period. The midflight issues also prompted the European Air Safety Agency issued an emergency airworthiness directive.

As for, Qingdao Airlines, its selection of the GTF engine to power an order of 18 A320neo family aircraft dates back to November 2016 – the same year that the GTF first entered commercial use.

“Today is an exciting milestone for Qingdao Airlines as we take delivery of our first A320neo aircraft,” says Wu LongXue, president of Qingdao Airlines and the Nanshan Aviation Industry Group. “We believe the GTF engines will deliver the fuel savings, reduced environmental footprint, and quieter flight experience for our passengers that we have been looking forward to.”

The airline, which offers domestic and international flight services to destinations across China and Northeast Asia, is the eighth GTF engine operator in China.
In July, Pratt & Whitney announced that orders for the GTF engine, which has garnered buy-in from Airbus, Bombardier, Embraer, Irkut, and Mitsubishi, have more than 2,000 units within a 12-month period. Regardless of early technical issues and delays, the orders keep coming.

Earlier this week, Athens-based Aegean Airlines S.A. – Greece’s largest airline – selected the Pratt & Whitney GTF as the powerplant for up to 62 Airbus A320neo aircraft: 30 firm, 12 option, and up to 20 leased aircraft. Aegean Airlines also entered into a service comprehensive service agreement with Pratt & Whitney for EngineWise maintenance and support.

“The GTF's strong order book over the past year is a reflection of the tremendous value the engine provides to operators,” says Chris Calio, president of commercial engines at Pratt & Whitney. “This engine architecture is allowing customers to realize fuel burn and environmental benefits that are unmatched in the industry. We are very excited about the future of the GTF engine.”

Learn more

William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.

Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at william.kucinski@sae.org.
  Continue reading »