There has been a lot of press recently related to the PW4000 engine family. Let’s review the PW4000 engine family produced by Pratt & Whitney.
This family of high by-pass ratio engines has three distinct engine diameters of 94 inches, 100 inches, and 112 inches.
The smallest fan diameter engines (94-inch) provides thrust from 52,000 pounds to 62,000 pounds and power the B747-400, B767-200, B767-300, A300, A310, and MD-11. The engine program was launched in 1982 as a replacement for the JT9D. These engines provided more thrust, better fuel consumption, and reduced emissions. FAA Certified it in 1986, this engine model went into service in June 1987. Today, over 750 engines are in service. These engines also power the USAF KC-46A Pegasus tanker.
The 100-inch fan diameter PW4000 powers the Airbus A330 aircraft (-200 and -300). It provides thrust from 64,000 pounds to 70,000 pounds. This version was FAA-certified in 1993 and entered service in 1994. It was designed specifically for the A330 and today has 230 engines in service.
The largest fan diameter PW4000 engine is 112 inches and powers the Boeing 777. It produces thrust from 74,000 pounds to 90,000 pounds. The engine was FAA Certified in 1994 and entered service in 1995. This family of over 146 engines has accumulated more than 22 million hours in service.
The PW4000 family of engines shared learning from each other as they were certified, developed, and in service. However, they have very little commonality between them.
As the fan diameter grew in the family of PW4000 engines, the core was supercharged through additional low-pressure compressor stages and low-pressure turbine stages. To reduce weight, as the fan diameter grew, the PW4000 100-inch engines incorporated an aluminum iso-grid Kevlar wrapped fan case.
The PW4000 112 engine also used the Kevlar fan case design and incorporated a hollow titanium fan blade to further reduce weight. Both the PW4000 94-inch engine and the PW4000 100-inch engine have solid titanium fan blades.
So as we look at the recent events on the 777 and understand PW4000 engine configurations, it is this author’s opinion that the 777 events, which are focused on the hallow fan blade, are not related to the 747 event in the Netherlands.
The PW4000 engine family has a long history of reliable service and this will continue.