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Aviation News Pratt & Whitney plots a course for Europe again

Pratt & Whitney plots a course for Europe again

Lo Barnier
15 NOV 2018 | 950 words
Pratt & Whitney plots a course for Europe again
Lufthansa Group
For many years, Europe has been an unfavourable market for Pratt & Whitney. If we exclude the results of its Canadian branch and its joint operations within the Engine Alliance (GP7200) and International Aero Engines (V2500), the American engine manufacturer's share of the fleet on the Old Continent has steadily decreased with the withdrawal of the JT8D and JT9D and the ground gradually ceded by the PW4000 to Rolls-Royce's Trent 700 and GE Aviation's GE90. But this trend now appears to be turning around, with its family of PW1000G geared turbofans (GTF), also identified under the name PurePower.

With the PW1100G on A320neos, the PW1200G on MRJs, the PW1400G on MC-21s, the PW1500G on A220s (ex-CSeries) and the PW1700G and PW1900G on E-Jet E2s, Pratt & Whitney has positioned itself on the major medium haul and regional jet programmes for the next fifteen years, except for the 737 MAX and the C919. This increased presence will lead to a steady return to European skies.

Major growth in perspective

For just the A320neo family alone, Pratt & Whitney already has orders to equip nearly 600 aircraft in Europe, or 700 if we count the Turkish Airlines fleet. We must also add around a hundred A220-100/300s and around fifteen E-Jet E190/195-E2s, excluding leasing contracts, to this total. Only the Japanese MRJ and the Russian MC-21 have little chance of breaking into the (western) European market.

This mass arrival of engines began at the end of 2015 with the delivery of the first A320neo to Lufthansa. At the moment, only around thirty A220s and around forty A320/321neos powered by Pratt & Whitney are in service in Europe, but these figures should grow exponentially over the next few years as the two programmes ramp up. This development requires the creation of a significant maintenance network.

Paul Finklestein, Pratt & Whitney's Marketing Director, feels that this network must be developed directly on the Old Continent: "This idea is that European engines will be serviced in Europe, simply because of transport costs and because engineers want to go and see their engines when they are in the engine shop. This means that there is a general desire to keep the engines as close as possible. Whether engines will be sent to Asia or North America will depend on slot availability. "

German control

As a major customer for the A220 and A320neo families, the Lufthansa group was naturally one of the first to adopt a position on this market with Lufthansa Technik. The MRO subsidiary set up servicing capacities at two sites in Germany, at Hamburg and Alzey. The German engine manufacturer MTU Aero Engines, which is a partner of the PW1000G programme, also did the same. Its MTU Maintenance division has set up maintenance services in its Hanover facilities, even if they are only handling the PW1100G for now.

Finally, the two protagonists joined forces to create the EME Aero joint enterprise in Poland, which is fully dedicated to GTF maintenance. This 160 000 m site which features 40 000 m of shops will be open at the end of 2019. It will be fully operational one year later, with around 1000 employees and an order capacity of 400 overhauls per year, at an investment cost of 150 million Euro.

When questioned about the need to strengthen these maintenance capacities, Paul Finklestein was definite: "Not in the short term. We need to see how the capacities measures up to what we are planning today. This should be enough to cope with what we are forecasting. "

The EME Aero centre in Jasionka (Poland) will become the nerve centre for GTF maintenance in Europe. MTU Aero Engines

No own capacity

At any rate, Pratt & Whitney is not planning to create its own maintenance centres, in keeping with its support strategy. "In general, the way we extend our servicing capacity is to create joint enterprises with traditional airlines or third party companies", explains Paul Finklestein. "We concentrate more on growth with existing companies which have demonstrated high quality rather than start from zero." "

While Pratt & Whitney Canada is well-established in Europe on the regional and business aircraft markets, consolidation does not appear to be on the cards either. "We will probably stay separate in the near future, just like we have done in the past", says Paul Finklestein.

But what about Air France-KLM in all of this...

One player could turn the whole situation upside down. Air France-KLM. Unlike its competitors - both low cost and traditional airlines - it has not yet taken a position for the renewal of its medium haul and regional fleets. Given the current investment made by AFI KLM E&M to develop its maintenance capacities on the LEAP, it is highly improbable that we will see the Franco-Dutch group choose the PW1100G if it orders A320neos - the question doesn't arise if it opts for the 737 MAX.

However, the HOP! Air France and KLM Cityhopper subsidiaries will surely be switching to GTF, probably by acquiring E-Jets E2. In light of the composition of the current fleet, this represents potential orders for around a hundred planes over the next few years (especially as HOP! is getting rid of its ATR fleet).

It would then be difficult to imagine Air France KLM contacting Lufthansa Technik to maintain its engines. In the same way, the size of the fleet could encourage AFI KLM E&M to develop its own capacities for maintain the PW1000G family.
Léo Barnier
Specialized journalist
Industry & Technology, Equipments, MRO

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