When it comes to regional aviation, aircraft engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney has had a busy year already despite current market challenges worldwide due to the pandemic

    [This feature first appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of Low Cost & Regional Airline Business, which you can read in full here.]

    As we move further into 2021, there have been some encouraging developments in the regional aviation sector. One of these developments was demonstrated by KLM Cityhopper which celebrated the entry into service of the regional carrier’s first Embraer E195-E2 aircraft, powered by Pratt & Whitney’s GTF engines. 

    The aircraft is the first of the 25 E195-E2s the airline has committed to purchase and is the largest Embraer model in the carrier’s fleet, with capacity to transport up to 132 passengers. The E195-E2 has more than 25.4 per cent reduction in fuel burn per seat when compared to the previous-generation E195.

    The aircraft touched down at Schiphol Airport on 25 February. “Not only is the 195-E2 an economically attractive aircraft, it also fits perfectly within our Fly Responsibly sustainability approach,” Warner Rootliep, managing director of KLM Cityhopper commented. 

    “This will enable KLM to make its own operations and the sector as a whole more sustainable. Now, more than ever before, we’re committed to reducing the impact we have on our surroundings and our ecological footprint. At present, fleet renewal makes the biggest contribution towards reducing CO² emissions.”

    Rick Deurloo, Pratt & Whitney’s chief commercial officer and senior vice president, says the engine manufacturer is proud to power KLM Cityhopper’s next-generation aircraft with what it calls its game-changing technology. “Our relationship with KLM goes back to the early days of aviation, and we look forward to continuing to work together to deliver more sustainable flight for years to come,” he commented.

    According to Pratt & Whitney, Embraer’s E-Jet E2 family is exclusively powered by the GTF engines and the manufacturer’s APS2600E auxiliary power unit. This auxiliary power unit increases the altitude ceiling for extended-range twin-engine operational performance standards (ETOPS) and other operations, providing carriers with more flexibility and a significant increase in electrical power delivery.

    Air France order

    Another announcement made in February by Pratt & Whitney revealed that the Air France-KLM Group had finalised its order for more than 120 GTF engines to power the group’s fleet of 60 Airbus A220-300 aircraft. The first aircraft is scheduled to be delivered in September 2021. 

    Air France’s chief commercial officer Angus Clarke says that, thanks in large part to Pratt & Whitney GTF engines, the carrier expects its A220 fleet to deliver significant economic and operational benefits, together with less noise and lower emissions. 

    Pratt & Whitney says the engines deliver double-digit improvements in fuel and carbon emissions and produce NOx emissions 50 per cent below the ICAO CAEP/6 regulation. The A220 engines are planned to be supported by the manufacturer through a long-term service agreement and the maintenance will be carried out by AFI KLM E&M.

    Covid-19 relief in the Philippines

    In other news for Pratt & Whitney, aircraft powered by its PW127 engine have been involved in relief missions related to the Covid-19 pandemic. One such mission was Cebu Pacific Air’s relief effort in the Philippines, where the carrier used its ATR 72-500 freighter to transport medical supplies and other vital goods to locations where they were most needed. 

    “During the pandemic, Cebu Pacific has been able to fly humanitarian goods such as medical supplies across the Philippines, free-of-charge,” Cebu Pacific Air’s deputy chief finance officer Mark Cezar explained. According to Cezar, the freighters have been used to serve both government and non-government organisations.

    Cezar noted that the PW127 engine combines excellent take-off capabilities on the ATR with low maintenance costs and good fuel burn. Cebu Pacific operates a large Pratt & Whitney PW127 fleet due to requiring aircraft such as ATRs which have short take-off and landing capability. 

    “Having a STOL aircraft in our fleet allows us versatility in where we can fly. Only about 30 per cent of the airports in the Philippines can accommodate a jet aircraft, and having the capability to serve smaller airports allows us to fly to more routes,” he explained.

    Pratt & Whitney says Cebu Pacific’s PW127 engines have the Pratt & Whitney Event Cost Plan which is a ‘pay-at-the-event’ fleet management programme maintenance plan that allows airlines to pay an amount equal to a predetermined hourly rate at each maintenance visit for the coverage selected. 

    Cezar says that, in an archipelago like the Philippines, having multiple points of connectivity and modalities of transportation is integral to economic development. “Steady and reliable logistics is critical to move goods and people – whether for trade, commerce or tourism. Having robust air connectivity is fundamental in driving growth in the economy down to the grass roots level.”