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As Pratt & Whitney (P&W) celebrates its 95th anniversary, the company also marks its 50th year in helicopter aviation. To match the growing number of missions powered by its turboshaft engines, the company continues to grow its global service network and suite of comprehensive service solutions.
“This year, 2020, is the 50th anniversary of our PT6T Twin-Pac engine, initially designed for the Bell 212,” says Nicolas Chabée, vice-president of marketing and sales for helicopter engines at P&W. “It’s a great opportunity to recognize the success of our turboshaft engines–but also to look forward to how 50 years of success is helping us to better serve our customers.”
He explains that when P&W engineers designed the now-iconic PT6T Twin-Pac engine–two PT6A engines joined by an innovative coupling system–they could not have imagined that helicopters would go on to fly so many types of missions.
Given the Twin-Pac’s foundational success, it is no surprise that several P&W-powered helicopters are now in the running to replace existing aircraft for security and defense purposes.
“Through the years, we’ve been able to adapt our engines for an increasingly diverse set of missions,” says Chabée. “This includes engines designed specifically for national defense, commercial off-the-shelf derivatives and engines powering civil aircraft repurposed for government needs.”
In one such example, the U.S. Navy will soon make a decision on its Advanced Helicopter Training System competition to replace its fleet of Bell TH-57 training helicopters. P&W is powering two of the three platforms in the running: the PT6B-powered Leonardo TH-119 (AW119 variant) and the PW206-powered Airbus H135.
Recently, the United States and Canada also selected helicopters powered by Pratt & Whitney. In 2018, the U.S. Air Force decided to replace its fleet of UH-1N helicopters with the Boeing MH-139, powered by PT6C engines. In 2019, the Royal Canadian Air Force selected Bell to upgrade its fleet of CH-146 Griffon helicopters with new PT6T-9 Twin-Pac engines.
“Our helicopter engines are popular with governments because they are off-the-shelf platforms with proven performance, high reliability and sound economics,” says Chabée. “Government customers also value our expansive service network and comprehensive suite of service solutions, which help us keep their engines at peak performance and mission readiness–no matter where the engines and aircraft are in their lifecycle.”
Pratt & Whitney has built one of the industry’s largest service networks and offers personalized and local service solutions for all of its turboprop, turboshaft, small turbofan and auxiliary power unit customers. The company has more than 40 owned and designated facilities for these products; two Customer First centers in Montreal, Quebec, and Singapore; seven parts distribution centers; and more than 100 field support representatives and mobile repair teams around the globe.
“Last year, we added four new helicopter engine service centers to our network for customers in Brazil, Central America, China, Russia and beyond,” says Chabée. These encompass an overhaul shop in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, for PT6A and PW200 series engines, and three designated maintenance facilities: COHC Aviation Science & Technic Co. in Shenzhen, China, for Leonardo AW139 operators [PT6C-67C engines]; Mapiex International in Panama City, Panama, for PT6T, PT6A and PT6C engines; and Helicopter Service Co. in Moscow, Russia, for Kazan Ansat operators [PW207K engines]. “As always, we’ll continue to monitor global demand for engine services and appoint local, designated maintenance facilities as needed,” explains Chabée.
“We’ve also been continuing to tailor our pay-per-hour programs, capped-cost overhaul solutions and digital engine services to our customers’ evolving needs.”
In digital engine services, Leonardo AW139 and Airbus H175 customers are now able to take advantage of the company’s industry-leading oil analysis technology. “AW139 customers could already benefit from the insights of full-flight data with our FAST [Full flight data Acquisition, Storage and Transmission] solution for their PT6C-67C engines,” says Chabée. “With the addition of our oil analysis technology to our -67C and -67E engines, we’re giving our customers another tool to help maximize aircraft availability.”
“As an industry, it’s easy to talk about engine and service innovation in terms of technology, operations and financing–but it’s much more than that,” says Chabée. “It starts with the personal relationships we build with our customers and suppliers to really listen and understand their needs. With this approach, we’re confident that our next 50 years in the helicopter industry will be as successful as our first 50.”