Pratt & Whitney Wins Airbus Engine Order

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Airbus has selected Pratt & Whitney's next-generation engine, giving the Connecticut manufacturer a big boost for the jet engine it says saves fuel and reduces noise.

Parent company United Technologies Corp. has spent $1 billion over 20 years to develop the geared turbofan engine. It says the engine significantly improves fuel efficiency, generates fewer carbon emissions and produces less noise than other airplane engines.

Kathleen Padgett, a spokeswoman at Pratt & Whitney, said Thursday the company believes the scale of the Airbus order could put the jet engine manufacturer back at a volume similar to what it had when it produced its JT8D engine program beginning in the 1960s.

The market potential is for 4,000 aircraft over 15 years, which would require 8,000 engines and spare parts.

Pratt & Whitney is the No. 3 jet engine maker, after General Electric Co. and Rolls Royce.

The Airbus A320, Pratt & Whitney's fourth customer, could be its most important for the engine, said analyst Matt Collins at Edward Jones.

The East Hartford-based Pratt & Whitney has previously won engine orders for regional jets manufactured by Bombardier, Mitsubishi and Russian airline manufacturer IRKUT.

"Those were an OK start but to get an Airbus or a Boeing is obviously the goal," Collins said. "This is a major victory."

The geared turbofan engine has been the highest profile product developed by United Technologies, Collins said.

Analyst Rick Whittington of JSA Research said Boeing is now under pressure to compete, "but I think the reality is that Airbus is in a strong competitive position with these parts."

"It should be a nice spillover for Pratt & Whitney and Airbus," he said.

The Toulouse, France-based Airbus' A320 aircraft is scheduled to enter service in 2016.

Pratt will have a competitor, CFM, which is a partnership between General Electric and Safran. Aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group said he believes Pratt & Whitney has the edge.

"Technically, they're more ambitious and further along in product development," he said. "They sort of led the way with the gear box and better fuel efficiency."

For Pratt, being selected by Airbus "dwarfs everything they've done before combined times five," Aboulafia said.