Pratt & Whitney Canada has a major operation at Mirabel Airport north of Montreal where they build the PW800 engine and also builds other models of the PW1000 series geared turbofan for the C Series, Embraer E2s, and forthcoming Mitsubishi RJ, Airbus A320neo, and Irkut MS-21. That operation is also home to the Pratt & Whitney’s engine testing program, with two Boeing 747SPs in the fleet.
We recently had the opportunity to tour the flight test operations in Mirabel and to discuss in more detail the PW800 engine, which powers the Gulfstream G500 and G600, and has been recently selected for the Falcon 6X.
The Flight Test Program and Aircraft
The company currently operates two Boeing 747SP aircraft that have been extensively modified for engine test work. These aircraft have two different test positions; one SP with a pylon attached to the upper fuselage utilized to test small engines (pictured) and the other SP with engine position number 3 on the wing to test larger engines.
The two 747SP aircraft were formerly flown by Air China and Korean Air and were modified extensively for their new roles as test aircraft by Pratt & Whitney. These aircraft test engines for both Pratt & Whitney in the US as well as Pratt & Whitney Canada, and fly about 700 hours per year.
The aircraft are outfitted with extensive testing gear and computers, taking up the entire cabin after the front door. There are three separate areas of test instrumentation with seats, engine controls, computer displays, and miles of wiring to capture engine performance and provide the capability to test the full flight envelope.
The aircraft are even set-up such that sub-contractors can have separate workstations receiving their own data separated from other test participants, in the event a partner, like MTU on the GTF, wanted to privately evaluate test results from its portion of the engine separately from Pratt & Whitney.
The PW800 is in full production in Mirabel
Powering the new Gulfstream G500 and G600, and having been recently selected for the Dassault Falcon 6X, the PW800 is proving to be a popular engine to power super-mid-sized to large-cabin business jets.
The PW800 is a part of the PurePower family of engines that includes the PW10000G, commonly known as the geared turbofan or GTF. The 800 shares its engine core with the GTF and is an all-new design that is scalable in the 10,000-20.000 lbs. thrust class. Sharing an engine core designed for rigorous airline service should provide strong performance and extended life in lower utilization business jet applications.
Leveraging technology, the PW800 delivers the best overall performance, efficiency, and quiet operations for high-speed operations. Fuel burn is optimized through the latest FADEC technology, and environmental performance includes a double-digit margin to CAEP/8 environmental regulations and low emissions through the Talon X combustor.
The engine also features next-generation technologies that have substantially lower part counts through the extensive use of composite materials and advanced manufacturing technologies, which should result in lower maintenance costs.
The fan is an advanced single piece unit, which results in lower noise and vibration levels in the cabin. In addition, advanced health monitoring provides early warning of potential failures, enabling preventive maintenance and greater dispatch reliability.
The Bottom Line
Pratt & Whitney Canada, which is already the leader in turboprops, has a new offering for the high-end business jet market in the PW800 that is proving quite popular. As a member of the same family as the GTF, the PW800 will offer airline ruggedness and reliability while being optimized for higher speed business aircraft applications. The future is looking bright in Mirabel as PWC expands its operational footprint.