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View Full Version : Pratt Geared Turbofan Blazes Trail Of Disruption


JammedStab
13th Dec 2015, 13:47
This is from Aviation Week. I'm not 100% sure if I am allowed to post their articles so I will put in a good word for them. The subscription price is well worth it. Lots of great comments on this article at the website as well from those in the industry.



"P&W’s geared turbofan is a farsighted bet, but could it be launched today?

In November, Airbus’s A320neo, powered by Pratt & Whitney’s PW1100G PurePower Geared Turbofan (GTF), was certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency and the FAA. Deliveries should begin any day. Its arrival represents the final stage of a rare event: new technology having a disruptive impact in our otherwise conservative industry.

Since the A320neo represents a “minimum change” variant of the latest A320ceo (current engine option), it is the engine that’s really new. And it is the GTF that disrupted the market.

The idea of a GTF has been around for decades, and several production engines have incorporated a gearbox, most notably Honeywell’s TFE731. But Pratt’s GTF is the first large jetliner engine to enter service with this technology. The company spent heavily to mature the GTF concept, patiently waiting until the market opportunities, high fuel prices and jetliner product development cycles aligned to permit its introduction.

Then, Pratt leveraged this technology to get back into the single-aisle propulsion business as a prime. The first application was Bombardier’s C Series, launched by Lufthansa at the 2008 Farnborough Airshow. But Pratt’s bigger goal quickly became clear: the C Series was also leveraged against the two legacy single-aisle players, forcing everyone to go with new engines.

By helping to create the C Series, Pratt lit the fuse on the single-aisle powder keg. Airbus, threatened by a new single-aisle jetliner with new-generation engines, fought back aggressively. It adapted the GTF as lead engine for the A320neo series, which became one of the fastest-selling new jets ever and gave Boeing little choice but to launch the 737 MAX.

The results of this chaotic change are quite remarkable: Of the 12,500 large commercial jets on backlog as of Nov. 1, 7,452, or 59%, are next-generation, single-aisle jets. This excludes hundreds of Embraer E-2s and Mitsubishi MRJs, which also use GTF engines, and possibly hundreds of Comac C919s (with CFM Leap-1Cs) and Irkut MS-21s (with GTFs). All of these models were developed as a direct result of the GTF’s launch. This month’s A320neo, of course, is the first of this new generation to arrive. All of these aircraft burn less fuel, produce fewer emissions and are quieter than last-generation models. They stimulate the market, too.

There are two important lessons from this remarkable chain of events. The first is that market disruption doesn’t necessarily mean market victory. Pratt’s disruptive business plan was complicated by a very effective CFM response. GE/Safran didn’t just curl up and sleep; they didn’t passively defend a dying franchise, as Pratt did 30 years ago, when the CFM56 took over from Pratt’s JT8D. Rather, CFM countered with an elaborate new technology development roadmap.

The resulting Leap-1 doesn’t have a key enabler like Pratt’s planetary gearbox, but it does have the materials and design features needed for a very competitive product. Thanks to the Leap-1’s sole-source position on the 737MAX (and as an option on the A320neo), CFM will maintain a greater than 60% share of the single-aisle powerplant market. The only all-new large jet enabled by the GTF is the C Series, which has garnered just 243 orders and seems to be hanging by a thread.

The second lesson is related to the first. Since disruption is no guarantee of total market victory, and since new program launches (even disruptive ones) don’t see financial returns for many years, companies are less likely to fund potentially disruptive technology. Pratt began funding GTF technology research decades ago, and if it follows the typical jet engine program pattern, it won’t be profitable until the installed base is large (and mature) enough to start spending heavily on aftermarket parts and services.

Meanwhile, aerospace companies have cut back drastically on new product development funding. In 2014, U.S. defense primes gave back more than 100% of cash from operations to shareholders, at the expense of investment spending.

Pratt did something admirable when it decided to fund the GTF. Without its disruptive impact, Airbus, Boeing and Embraer would still be building last-generation jets for many years to come. And its parent, United Technologies Corp., has been a good corporate citizen, funding the GTF and also Sikorsky’s X2 Raider high-speed compound helicopter technology, used to create the S-97 Raider scout model. But with the company’s profits today under heavy pressure from slumping aftermarket work, it quite possibly would not choose to initiate these long-term projects today. It is equally legitimate to question whether Sikorsky’s new owner, Lockheed Martin, would have funded the X2 program if it had owned Sikorsky a few years ago.

The world aircraft industry should enjoy the remarkable wave of disruption, now starting with the A320neo’s arrival. But after this wave, our industry risks stagnation. It’s far from clear that anyone today will follow Pratt’s path.

Contributing columnist Richard Aboulafia is vice president of analysis at Teal Group. He is based in Washington."

http://aviationweek.com/commercial-aviation/opinion-pratt-geared-turbofan-blazes-trail-disruption?page=1&NL=AW-18&Issue=AW-18_20151204_AW-18_926&sfvc4enews=42&cl=article_2&utm_rid=CPEN1000000624045&utm_campaign=4389&utm_medium=email&elq2=cbafe9793174477e9c1ceafb166cac39

RogerGliding
13th Dec 2015, 14:44
See also this:
Rolls-Royce Details Advance And UltraFan Test Plan | Commercial Aviation content from Aviation Week (http://aviationweek.com/commercial-aviation/rolls-royce-details-advance-and-ultrafan-test-plan)
and this :
Rolls Freezes Design Of First UltraFan Test Gear | Technology content from Aviation Week (http://aviationweek.com/technology/rolls-freezes-design-first-ultrafan-test-gear)

twistedenginestarter
16th Dec 2015, 20:44
GTF and Leap don't do an awful lot apart from use less fuel. In a world where quite suddenly fuel prices look to have plummetted for a long time, it will be interesting to see what happens next.

Cubs2jets
16th Dec 2015, 21:20
Uhhhhh... Fuel prices will go back up??

And, I think it is reasonable to think that in the future they will exceed their previous highs. I'm just not smart enough to predict when this will happen.

C2j

jack11111
16th Dec 2015, 22:48
Don't forget, up to 75% more quiet.*


*Per wikipedia article.

ATC Watcher
17th Dec 2015, 07:36
Cubs2jets ; it is reasonable to think that in the future they will exceed their previous highs

I remember a presentation made by he then CEO of Total when Fuel was approaching 100 $ a barrel a few years back . A slide of his presentation showed a bell shape and the point of no return when demand will exceed capacity .
With population raising and emerging economies like India and China expanding and relying on fossile fuels,that peak production point will drive prices up to the point where products which are cheap today will no longer be affordable and disappear. Cheap air travel will be one of them
The decision to go ahead with the A380 was made by AI according such assomption.
As you said, when this will happen is of course the billion $ question , but it will happen this century.
All this research to develop and market fuel reductions in jet engines do make lots of sense.

Volume
17th Dec 2015, 07:44
This is where it starts to become highly political...
Should airports an their regulators worldwide decide to extend operating hours for quiet aircraft, potentially allowing for unrestricted 24 hours operation below a certain noise threshold, a completely new market may develop. A lot of westbound long range night flights may allow to travel without loosing a day, depart late in the evening or arrive early in the morning. And this level of noise reduction will probably only be possible with the GTF concept.

ECAM_Actions
17th Dec 2015, 10:52
Calling it "disruptive" is only to mask that it really isn't such a major development. If it is so much better than current free co-axial turbines, then why wait so long to bring it to market?

I don't hear anyone discussing reliability. How does that stack up against current designs? I'm guessing it is higher maintenance, as you have critical parts that are presumably highly loaded and running together at a contact point.

* more fuel efficient - yes?
* quieter - yes?
* as or more reliable - yes?

Why the need to wait? I sugges there could be longer term issues with this design.

nonsense
17th Dec 2015, 13:06
I remember a presentation made by he then CEO of Total when Fuel was approaching 100 $ a barrel a few years back . A slide of his presentation showed a bell shape and the point of no return when demand will exceed capacity.

What you are describing is "peak oil" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil); the completely sound (and very old) recognition that since oil is a finite resource there must eventually come a point in time when production peaks and then falls.

When combined with the seemingly obvious assumption that demand will not fall away as supply does, peak oil implies that oil prices must then spike, almost certainly spectacularly and disruptively. It's the nightmare version of the "oil running out" scenario we were almost all taught in primary school over many decades.

But there are respectable alternative opinions emerging. This article from Nasdaq (http://www.nasdaq.com/article/everything-has-changed-oil-saudi-arabia-and-the-end-of-opec-cm432119) makes for interesting reading.

Regardless of whether you believe that climate change is real, the widespread belief in climate change is certainly real and affecting government policies and markets, and it is becoming accepted that "to achieve anything better than a 50/50 shot at keeping global warming under 2 degrees centigrade (the most widely accepted threshold for avoiding catastrophic climate change) 82% of fossil reserves must remain in the ground."

In that context, peak oil potentially takes on an entirely different complexion, with peak production following slowly falling demand and prices rather than preceding excess demand and astronomically high prices.

I'm an engineer, not an economist (or a climate scientist), but when Nasdaq publishes a story like this I think it is worth reading and considering the possible implications.

ATC Watcher
17th Dec 2015, 18:02
Nonsense : Fascinating article, thanks . opens new doors .

The (indeed) "peak oil" presentation I was referring to is at least 10 years old.
It does not include the curent geopolitical debate and the (so far only promised ) actions regarding climate change . But reliance on fossil fuel to sustain emerging economies is still real. But on the other hand if we all go 100% electric and using nuclear power plants to produce that electricity to limit the CO2 emissions, ,oil indeed may end up like the stones in the stone age analogy.

But if you were an aircraft or an engine manufacturer today what would you bet on ?

twistedenginestarter
17th Dec 2015, 22:08
So if airlines love new technology so much, why have Delta just ordered 900ERs and not Max 9s?

nonsense
17th Dec 2015, 22:51
Nonsense : Fascinating article, thanks . opens new doors .
...
But if you were an aircraft or an engine manufacturer today what would you bet on ?

I know just enough about the subject to know not to choose me to make that decision.

tdracer
17th Dec 2015, 23:58
So if airlines love new technology so much, why have Delta just ordered 900ERs and not Max 9s?
The Delta CEO is on record as saying he'd rather have 'cheap' than new. Hence ordering A330 (not NEO), 737NG rather than the Max, and putting new interiors in their huge fleet of 757 and 767 to fly them another 50,000 hours. He's also mentioned wanting to pick up used 777s for cheap when operators start replacing them with 777X.
At current fuel prices he looks like a genius. If prices skyrocket again, not so much :E.

BTW, my person crystal ball says that fuel prices will stay relatively low for at least the next five years - maybe not as low as they are now, but well below $100/barrel. HOWEVER, it's somewhat more fuzzy about the impact of "green" policies - it wouldn't exactly surprise me to see a large carbon tax tacked onto fossil fuels that push the 'effective' price of fuel back over $100/barrel. :ugh:

barit1
18th Dec 2015, 01:57
A couple other factors coming into play:

Natural gas is becoming very plentiful via the technique of "fracking". Its effect on aviation is indirect, replacing liquid petroleum in terrestrial works like power generation and surface transport. Many city buses and delivery trucks are using natural gas already.

(I am scratching my head about the ultimate source of this very-deep gas source; it seems too deep to have come from rotting dinosaur carcasses. And a parallel question is - where did all the methane on the planetary giants in our solar system originate?)

Whatever its ultimate origin, natural gas use frees up diesel fuel and Jet fuel. And while Europe is not pursuing nuclear, it also frees up oil for aviation. :ok:

peekay4
18th Dec 2015, 02:30
At current fuel prices he looks like a genius. If prices skyrocket again, not so much.
Delta, etc., all hedge fuel prices by using options and futures contracts.

E.g., as of today you can lock in Brent crude for delivery as far out as March 2023 for just under $60/barrel. That's a good premium over the current contract price ($37/bbl) but still well under $100/bbl.

So even if the price of oil spikes up again in the next 10 years, they can keep the average price paid per barrel relatively low.

Especially with Iran set to re-enter the oil market, the price of oil is unlikely to exceed $100/bbl again in the foreseeable future, barring a large unforeseen geopolitical event.

In part that's because shale operators have effectively capped the price of oil well below $100/bbl. Even if most of them could go bankrupt at today's prices, many others will simply replace them and ramp up production again should prices start rising again.

pattern_is_full
18th Dec 2015, 03:53
Slightly off-topic so I'll make it brief:

(I am scratching my head about the ultimate source of this very-deep gas source; it seems too deep to have come from rotting dinosaur carcasses. And a parallel question is - where did all the methane on the planetary giants in our solar system originate?)

Not just rotting dinosaurs - rotting anything that ever lived: trees, ferns, microbes, plankton, you name it.

Shells are calcium carbonates, and collecting on the bottom of the seas (for several billion years), form sedimentary rocks like limestone, marble, and the UK's famous chalk. Which get subducted under (slide beneath) other rock layers along ocean-rim fault lines.

On other planets with no known bio-sources - a good question. But the Universe was around for 8 billion years before the solar system formed. The "dust" the solar system was made from likely contained a lot of "pre-owned" crud from older star systems.

Methane is a pretty simple compound - process one carbon atom together with two H2 molecules (most common element in the universe), and it's "methane party" time.

twistedenginestarter
18th Dec 2015, 07:30
The resulting Leap-1 doesn’t have a key enabler like Pratt’s planetary gearbox, but it does have the materials and design features needed for a very competitive product. CFM will maintain a greater than 60% share of the single-aisle powerplant market. The only all-new large jet enabled by the GTF is the C Series, which has garnered just 243 orders and seems to be hanging by a thread.

How can GTF be disruptive if gearless gives the same efficiency and takes the majority of the market:confused::confused::confused:

phiggsbroadband
18th Dec 2015, 17:39
At the 2015 Engineer of the Year Awards Contest....


Engineer 67.... 'I've put a Turbo Prop in a Duct'


Next please...

SMT Member
18th Dec 2015, 20:06
How can GTF be disruptive if gearless gives the same efficiency and takes the majority of the market:confused::confused::confused:

Because the GTF is not offered on the 737max which, albeit lacking in sales vs. the A320neo, still commands a very healthy backlog. The other GTF users are but rounding errors in the big A vs B picture.

AC560
18th Dec 2015, 21:32
Delta, etc., all hedge fuel prices by using options and futures contracts.

That doesn't mean they always hedge right

Fuel hedging and airlines: Gambles that haven't paid off | The Economist (http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2015/01/fuel-hedging-and-airlines)

peekay4
18th Dec 2015, 22:49
That doesn't mean they always hedge right
Well yes and no... that article is rather simplistic.

If you buy insurance, but subsequently didn't have an accident, did you "lose" that premium you paid? Not really, that premium bought protection during the coverage period.

Hedging is somewhat analogous. If you purchase (say) option contracts for future delivery at price 'X' and subsequently the price is actually below 'X', then you've "lost" the premium you paid for those contracts, but you were also "protected" against potentially crippling price increases during the contract period.

That protection against dramatic price increases is the important part. For most airlines, when there's risk of higher oil prices it's better to pay $$$$ for some amount of protection, even if they end up eating the high cost of the hedge if the actual price is lower than the contracted strike price.

So the key is to find the best hedging strategy depending on each airline's specific situation. Delta, for example, still enjoyed record profits due to lower fuel prices (http://www.wsj.com/articles/delta-profit-soars-on-lower-fuel-costs-1444823062) even with the large cost of hedging.

Turbine D
19th Dec 2015, 01:02
tdracer,
BTW, my person crystal ball says that fuel prices will stay relatively low for at least the next five years

Five years may be an underestimation if Saudi Arabia decides to pump as much oil out of their patch as possible, regardless of price obtained, rather than leaving it in the ground and getting nothing in the future.

Everything Has Changed: Oil, Saudi Arabia, And The End Of OPEC | Seeking Alpha (http://seekingalpha.com/article/2815215-everything-has-changed-oil-saudi-arabia-and-the-end-of-opec)

peakay4,
Delta, for example, still enjoyed record profits due to lower fuel prices even with the large cost of hedging.
Delta's situation may be a little more complicated than other airlines in that they own their own refinery, meaning any hit they may have experienced on hedging is lightened by producing jet fuel from their internal refinery operation.

TD

MG23
19th Dec 2015, 05:51
Five years may be an underestimation if Saudi Arabia decides to pump as much oil out of their patch as possible, regardless of price obtained, rather than leaving it in the ground and getting nothing in the future.

Last I heard, Saudi will go bust in less than five years at current oil prices.

Besides, the premise is silly; it's better to sell one barrel of oil for a trillion dollars than a trillion barrels at one dollar each.

nonsense
19th Dec 2015, 08:07
Five years may be an underestimation if Saudi Arabia decides to pump as much oil out of their patch as possible, regardless of price obtained, rather than leaving it in the ground and getting nothing in the future.

Everything Has Changed: Oil, Saudi Arabia, And The End Of OPEC | Seeking Alpha (http://seekingalpha.com/article/2815215-everything-has-changed-oil-saudi-arabia-and-the-end-of-opec)

That article requires a subscription to view - but fortunately it's the same one I quoted earlier at a different site (www.nasdaq.com/article/everything-has-changed-oil-saudi-arabia-and-the-end-of-opec-cm432119).

As I commented earlier in answer to another question, I wouldn't claim to know enough to try to predict what oil prices will do in the next few years, but it certainly does make for interesting reading and I think we are in for some version or another of "interesting times".