In RCAF Today 2019, we examine personnel retention, fighter procurement, future aircrew training and more!
Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) was founded in 1928 in Montreal by James Young to offer maintenance on the then popular Wasp 1340 radial piston engine. From these humble roots the company grew, with in-house innovations that include the mighty PT6 gas turbine engine unveiled in 1963. In May 2017, P&WC announced it had produced 100,000 engines.
The PT6 started out as a powerplant for turboprop aircraft (the PT6A engine family) and evolved into also powering helicopters–the PT6B, PT6C, and PT6T engine families later complemented by the PW200 and PW210 engines. Together, these engines power many of the world’s helicopter fleets, especially small and medium twins.
“From the beginning, P&WC has been at the cutting edge of engine research,” said Irene Makris, vice president of marketing, responsible for helicopter engines. “More importantly, our engines have been well-accepted by the aviation industry. This is why P&WC engines have flown more than 800 million hours in total, with our helicopter engines achieving 60 million flight hours to date.”
Mindful that helicopter operators are always seeking engines that are more powerful, lighter and more fuel-efficient, P&WC is constantly developing new models. The company’s most recently developed helicopter engine is the PW210, an innovative centerline design.
Delivering an impressive 1,000-plus shaft horsepower, the PW210 design is surprisingly simple. It has only five major rotating components. The engine was designed for ease of maintenance, benefitting from the knowledge acquired from the company’s PT6 heritage and PW200 experience. The PW210 also uses a combined reduction/engine accessory gearbox, which contributes to the engine’s compact design.
The PW210 is equipped with a dual-channel, full authority digital engine control (FADEC). FADEC reduces pilot workload by taking responsibility for monitoring and managing the engine so that it always delivers peak performance within manufacturer specs,” said Makris.
“The PW210 engine uses the latest FADEC technology with increased processor capability and memory, allowing more software functionality to be embedded in the FADEC system,” she said. “This means the PW210 reduces pilot workload even further by enabling functions such as creep counting, and electronic on-ground and in-flight power assurance checks.”
The PW210’s FADEC even helps with ongoing engine maintenance by delivering detailed maintenance messages directly to the cockpit.
The engine also doubles as a helicopter’s auxiliary power unit (APU). This eliminates the cost, weight and maintenance associated with having a third engine onboard. This is especially critical for applications such as emergency medical services (EMS) because medical equipment will continue to function while the helicopter is on the ground without the rotors turning.
Put it all together, and the P&WC PW210 delivers best-in-class fuel consumption and power-to-weight ratio; a lightweight, compact form factor; low environmental emissions; minimal maintenance and low maintenance costs. This is why the PW210 is featured in new aircraft such as the Leonardo (formerly AgustaWestland) AW169 and the Sikorsky S-76D.
The advances found in the PW210 reflect P&WC’s ongoing commitment to developing engines that offer reduced maintenance costs to customers, in addition to extra power, less weight and more performance. P&WC has recently increased the maintenance interval (time between overhaul) for the PW210 engine from 3,500 hours to 4,000 hours.
“We are in development and collaborating with our customers on the next generation of engines for next-generation helicopters,” said Makris. “In fact, we are currently developing an entirely new engine in the 2,000 shaft horsepower range that will power both helicopters and turboprops.”
To ensure all P&WC engine owners and operators enjoy optimal on-wing time at the lowest cost, Pratt & Whitney Canada offers the largest, most comprehensive customer service network in the industry, including the company’s Customer First Centres working 24/7 in Montreal and Singapore.
“We have 30 owned and designated overhaul facilities, and 100 mobile repair team technicians, ensuring that P&WC’s MRO [maintenance, repair and overhaul] expertise is available to our clients wherever they happen to be,” said Makris.
“Add in our cost-effective maintenance options like P&WC’s Eagle Service Plan and our Fleet Management Program, which keep operator costs manageably predictable while maximizing fleet availability.”
P&WC is also known for its diagnostics, prognostics and health management (DPHM) solutions, including its most advanced solution–FAST (Flight Acquisition Storage and Transmission).
“FAST captures, analyzes and electronically transmits full flight data intelligence to customers within minutes of the pilot shutting down the engines after landing, allowing them to optimize dispatch availability and maintenance, while reducing operating costs,” said Makris.
FAST is currently installed on more than 1,100 rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft, including the Leonardo AW139 powered by the PT6C-67C engine.
P&WC has recently made its Oil Analysis Technology Program commercially available to customers of the PW306A engine. The technology has been in a trial phase since early 2016 and some 5,000 engines are still in that trial. The Oil Analysis Technology employs highly sensitive technology to detect minute debris in engine oil, allowing operators to learn what is happening inside their engines without having to open them up, hundreds of hours before a potential event occurs. The technology enables on-wing monitoring of engine bearings, gears and carbon seals and demonstrates the ability to help identify issues early to minimize or avert them entirely. The technology will become available on P&WC’s other engines in the future.
Today, P&WC engines power approximately 5,000 helicopters used for corporate transport, firefighting, emergency medical transport, oil-and-gas and other utility applications. The reliability, versatility and durability of the products provide superior value for all types of missions and customer profiles.
“From the beginning, P&WC has been at the cutting-edge of engine research.”
— Irene Makris, vice president of marketing, responsible for helicopter engines