Every engine OEM wants their engine to be chosen on one or more new models being launched by airframe OEMs. Honeywell, which has had its HTF7000 series engine on Bombardier’s Challenger 300 since the aircraft’s launch in 2003, now has the upgraded version of that engine, the HTF7350, on Bombardier’s Challenger 350, which was certified by Transport Canada in June 2014. The HTF7350 produces just over 7,300 lb of thrust.
“Bombardier has NetJets Europe as their launch customer for the Challenger 350,” Bevans notes. NetJets, which saw its first Challenger 350 arrive in July 2014 for its US operation, and which took a further seven aircraft during the second half of the year, is due to take five more Challenger 350s through 2015.
The order announcement dates back to NBAA 2013, when NetJets intimated that it could take as many as 200 of the aircraft over the coming years. “We recently completed an engine update with Bombardier. The reason for the upgrade was a perceived need for more thrust on take-off in order to keep the runway requirement under 5,000 feet and to speed up the time taken to reach cruising altitude. “The time to cruising altitude is critical since this goes directly to the aircraft’s range. The upgraded engine maintains the same Mach 0.8 speed at cruise altitude with a fully fuelled aircraft carrying its full complement of passengers,” Bevans notes. Having worked closely with Bombardier on the Challenger 300, Bevans says that Honeywell had anticipated the need for an upgraded engine on a new Challenger model and had had the upgrade in its work plan from shortly after the launch of the Challenger 300. “Bombardier essentially waited ten years before it went ahead with the successor to the 300, but since we had been preparing for a higher thrust version of our HTF7000 family for all that time, it was pretty straightforward for us to produce the upgrade. We did not have to do anything particularly heroic to achieve the additional thrust,” he comments.
Bombardier, of course, has done very well out of the Challenger 300. As Bevans notes, the aircraft’s production sales held up pretty well through most of the bad years following the global financial meltdown in 2008. “They sell around 50 to 60 Challenger 300s each year and for a long while there was little pressure on Bombardier to do the next version. But then we had new aircraft like the Embraer Legacy 500 and the G280 from Gulfstream appearing and Bombardier had plenty of incentive to start work on the Challenger 350,” he says. Honeywell has also had its HTF7000 series on the Gulfstream 280, which is built in Israel for Gulfstream by IAI,. “Sales of that aircraft are doing well. The G280 came out of flight test with 200 feet better than the brochure on take-off field length and range 200 miles over the brochure figure, so our engines are helping it to outperform in a good way. We have the Embraer Legacy 500 out there and doing well with the HTF7500,” Bevans notes. The Legacy 450 is the somewhat smaller, seven-seat version of the 500 and also has the HTF7000 engine family as its power plant. “It’s the same engine. All we have to do is adjust the power-set ranges in the FADEC, so that is pretty straightforward,” he adds. Honeywell is very content to leave the higher thrust ranges to PWC and others. “We looked at the higher thrust categories, up above 10,000lb of thrust, but between 10,000 and 14,000lb of thrust you are in very crowded, highly competitive territory. Where we currently play in the 4,000 to 7,000lb thrust range we have a very well established position.
Our customers trust us and like us for that range, so that is where we play,” Bevans comments. That doesn’t mean that Honeywell completely ignores the higher thrust range. It has a very successful business providing components to other engine OEMs in that space, including fuel control systems, pumps and valves. Similarly, Honeywell is happy to stay out of the light jet market, where there are three very capable competitors, namely Williams International, Pratt & Whitney and GE Honda. So where is Honeywell going next on the engines front? Bevans points out that Honeywell’s interests range from business aviation mid-size aircraft to helicopters, and turbo props. “We want to deploy our technology across all of them, as widely as possible. We are looking constantly at market opportunities for our FADEC systems, for our low emissions combustion solutions. In the jet engine space the OEMs are all going for stand up cabins and you will see a new burst of aircraft in the 4000 nautical mile range segment coming to market, which plays well for us. The next big city pair groupings lie in that 4000 nm range. Whether the aircraft will end up being too big for our solutions depends on how the OEMs implement their vision. If they go to the high-Mach number approach (as with G650 and Global Express) then that would probably be too heavy for us. But we have very competitive power density (thrust-to-weight ratio) and we are getting a very good response from OEMs around our approach,” he comments. Airframe OEMs all face the same pressures, namely to bring aircraft to market that are more fuel efficient, less polluting, with the required range. Honeywell has great solutions to offer, Bevans says.
After market care is huge for all engine manufacturers. Bevans points out that Honeywell’s Maintenance Service Plan (MSP) is very popular amongst pilots, operators and corporate flight departments. “We have our support offering well dialled in to what our customer base want and expect and there is a very high uptake ratio on the airplanes flying our engines. People understand that a good maintenance package helps resale values as well as eliminating nasty surprises,” he concludes. P&WC celebrates certification for its PurePower® PW800 engine On 15th February, Pratt & Whitney Canada celebrated achieving the certification of its PurePower PW800 engine by Transport Canada. The engine will power Gulfstream’s new G500 and G600 business jets. As Michael Perodeau, Vice President, Corporate Aviation and Military Programs notes, the PW800 has already logged hundreds of hours of test flying on P&WC’s Boeing 747 testbed.
“The next stage is to port the engine to Gulfstream,” Perodeau says. P&WC has already shipped a couple of ship-sets of the PW800 to Gulfstream and there are now more on the way. It is a particular point of pride with P&WC that it does the whole powerplant, including the nacelle. Perodeau says that P&WC is not releasing the exact numbers on the by-pass ratios achieved in the PW800. He’d rather play that close to his chest for fear of giving the competition rather too easy a ‘heads up’ on all P&WC’s hard work. But he does say that it is a high bypass ratio for a business jet. “You get very high bypass ratios on regional jets but they can hang big heavy engines off their wings and the bigger the nacelle, generally speaking, the higher the bypass ratio you can achieve. The smaller scale of business jets limits what we can do, but this is all about optimising for high speed, high altitude cruising and for generating great thrust at take off so you can bring the required runway figures down to very attractive levels,” he says. So far, up to certification, the PW800 has clocked up over 3,300 hours of testing, including 350 hours of flight testing. “Basically we have demonstrated the performance and operability of the engine throughout the flight envelop of our 747 testbed. So this has confirmed the performance expectations that we have given to Gulfstream and that, after all, is the basic reason for flight testing,” he comments.
Not surprisingly, since the PW800 was designed to be best in class, it is generating some very good fuel efficiency and emissions numbers. “Fuel consumption improvements are a driving force for the whole business aviation sector and have been for ages as far as engine development is concerned, since quite apart from the green agenda, fuel efficiencies go directly to range, and every owner wants more range for his or her aircraft,” Perodeau says. There are, of course, two elements to emissions improvements, one is cutting back on NOX emissions and the other is generating fewer particulates. The PW800 as the TalonTM X technology, which P&WC designed to be a low NOX combustion chamber and the engine is very low on particulate emissions. Much has been said about the fan on the PW800. It is a single piece titanium fan, with the various bits, including the blades, all friction welded under high pressure. This produces very clean joins with no imperfections and no weld area to create weaknesses. “With no joins, the fan acts like one continuous piece of metal,” Perodeau notes. Linear welding has been around for ages but its deployment in turbojet fans has particular benefits – no one wants a turbine blade breaking loose at high speed. P&WC has also been achieving good things with the venerable PT6.
“The market remains reasonably healthy for our PT6. It is now on so many different aircraft and mission types, from agricultural aircraft to King Airs and the Pilatus P12. We are always looking at potential new variants of the PT6. We have studies under way for electronic controls on some variants. We do not have FADEC on it yet, but that is a technology that we are always studying and we are getting prepared to incorporate FADEC when it makes sense to do so,” he notes. Perodeau reckons that P&WC is drawing some cautious confidence from the fact that a number of market indicators are moving in the right direction. “As far as the corporate market is concerned in the US, the flying hours are climbing back up towards healthy levels and have been moving up consistently for several months. Corporate profits across corporate America remain strong and the stock markets are buoyant, which is always a good sign,” he comments.
However Perodeau notes that all these plus points have not yet converged to bring about a really significant increase in manufacturer order books. “There is still a big question-mark over Europe, with some of the well known instability in some of the Eurozone economies. But at some point you have to hope that all the positive signs will prevail and will translate into a noticeable increase in new business for the business aviation sector. Airplanes are flying and the fleet, on average, is getting older, so people are going to want to replace old aircraft with these very attractive new models as soon as they can get confident that the global economy is back on track,” he concludes.