Pratt & Whitney said it has lifted orders of the new fuel-efficient geared turbofan jet engine to 6,000 units as the manufacturer seeks to maintain at least half of the market for powerplants on the popular Airbus A320neo.
The engine-maker, a unit of United Technologies Corp. (UTX:US) that competes with General Electric Co. (GE:US), increased its backlog from 5,500 in late May, Paul Adams, Pratt’s president, said in London ahead of the Farnborough International air show.
The rising orders give a boost to Pratt after a geared turbofan engine on Bombardier Inc. (BBD/B)’s new CSeries jet caught fire during a ground test May 29, prompting the fleet to be grounded. Pratt is working on “minor modifications to the engines and procedural changes” with the aim to restart test flights in the next few weeks, Adams said in an interview.
Pratt has responded to inquiries from customers over the cause of the incident, Adams said. The concerns have not hurt long-term sales prospects, he said.
“We think the market is really accepting the technology,” he said. “We’re not seeing any reluctance to buy the GTF based on the CSeries incident. We’re very confident with the reliability of the product and this is the type of thing that happens when engines have 10,000 hours of operation.”
Pratt has spent more than $1 billion over 20 years to develop the geared turbofan engine, which uses a gearbox to improve fuel burn. The company is preparing for a major ramp-up in production to accommodate the rising orders.
The engine is offered on Airbus Group NV (AIR)’s A320neo and the CSeries, in addition to several regional aircraft. Pratt competes with GE’s CFM International joint venture to provide engines for the Airbus jet, and Adams said he’s confident his company can keep 50 to 55 percent market share on the jet.
Pratt is in discussions with airframers about the possibility of adapting the geared turbofan technology for wide-body applications, Adams said, adding the GTF technology “scales extremely well.”
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