Pratt & Whitney head says jet engine output risks easing

Mon Feb 15, 2016 6:14pm EST
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By Tim Hepher

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Pratt & Whitney's new chief says the performance of suppliers is much better than year ago, easing concerns over its ability to execute a $10 billion gamble on a new engine as it seeks to reclaim a once revered status in the jet industry.

But the industry veteran said he knew how to find out whether the company's make-or-break production goals for the latest short-haul airplane engine are under strain.

"I will get every engine serial number and will see the parts that are committed and if it supports the engine shipment date," Robert Leduc told Reuters at the Singapore Airshow.

Speaking after opening a high-tech fan-blade plant in Singapore, Leduc also played down concerns over aircraft demand, saying the company had seen no deferrals or cancellations.

Once dominant in commercial aviation, Pratt lost its way in the 1990s after betting on the wrong category of plane and leaving the door open to General Electric (GE.N: Quote) and its French partner Safran (SAF.PA: Quote), who now lead sales by volume.

It is seeking to regain its position with a fuel efficient engine for jets including the Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote) A320neo as well as Canada's Bombardier (BBDb.TO: Quote) and the latest model of Embraer.

Developed at a cost of $10 billion, the Geared Turbofan engines claim to burn 15 percent less fuel and have already influenced the way some future jet engines are designed.

Pratt has sold 7,000 of them and triggered other engine and plane developments. But analysts warn the company still has much to prove as it attempts to increase production seven-fold in the next four years.   Continued...

Pratt and Whitney's President Bob Leduc passes a signage during the opening ceremony of their first manufacturing facility in Singapore February 15, 2016.  REUTERS/Edgar Su