Pratt & Whitney: Engines that spur India's aviation success story
Pratt & Whitney has been offering aviation engine solutions worldwide for 95 years and its presence in India dates back to the 1940s. The company has exciting plans for India, including supporting national programmes such as UDAN/Regional Connectivity, ‘Skill India’ and ‘Make in India’. Ms. Ashmita Sethi, the new Managing Director of Pratt & Whitney India, elaborates on these initiatives as well as other aspects related to the company’s business in the country.
After taking over as Managing Director of Pratt & Whitney’s India operations, what are your immediate priorities?
My focus in this role is to serve Pratt & Whitney’s commercial, government and general aviation customers, to ensure our engines and services are helping them achieve their missions dependably every day. This includes the communities served by our products, and supporting national programmes such as UDAN/Regional Connectivity, ‘Skill India’ and ‘Make in India’. We have exciting plans for Pratt & Whitney’s future in India that will benefit young students today thinking about a career in aviation.
You had a distinguished track record with Boeing as well as Rolls-Royce. Could you tell us how would that experience help you in the present position?
I think you will be hard-pressed to find anyone in aviation who doesn’t absolutely love this industry. We help connect communities and families, we are a major force in growing economies, and we help save lives and support the defence of nations all around the world. Pratt & Whitney is very much the future of aviation, and it’s part of the solution to climate change, with the most advanced engines powering regional and commercial aviation.
India has one of the fastest growing civil aviation sectors in the world. What are Pratt & Whitney’s plans to utilize this opportunity to boost the company’s business?
The Indian civil aviation sector is set to become the third busiest aviation market in the world in the coming five to seven years, with a capability of sustaining at least 1.5 billion trips out of eight billion trips globally. It is also one of the world’s fastest growing aviation markets. As a company offering engine solutions for 95 years, Pratt & Whitney has played a significant role in India’s aviation growth story. India is an important strategic market for Pratt & Whitney, and we continue to build on our long-standing partnership with the country. We have and will continue to make substantial investments in shaping the future of India’s civil aviation sector. We are committed to serving the growing demands of our customers with a futuristic approach to improving jet engine technology, which will power the industry for decades to come. The Pratt & Whitney GTF™ engine will power this growth while reducing the impact of flying on the environment. We are part of making it possible to reap the rewards of growing commercial aviation with a lower carbon footprint.
Could you give us details of the major customers of the company’s aircraft engines in India?
Pratt & Whitney has a longstanding presence in India spanning more than seven decades. Our association with the country goes back to the 1940s, when our Wasp engines powered several Douglas DC-3 aircraft in country. Then, in 1960, Air India took delivery of its first Boeing 707 with our JT3D engine. Pratt & Whitney is committed to supporting more than 1,250 engines in service in the region. These include commercial aircraft powered by GTF™, V2500 and PW100 engines, F117-powered C-17 transports and PT6A-powered PC-7 trainers used by the Indian Air Force, and many small jets, helicopters and turboprops flown by governments, businesses and individuals throughout the country. We are proud to say that we are powering growth in India. Nearly 300 Pratt & Whitney GTF-powered A320neo family aircraft have been ordered by Indian airlines IndiGo and GoAir. These two airlines currently operate about 150 GTF-powered aircraft of this type, which is 25 per cent of the world’s GTF-powered A320neo fleet. Our V2500 operators in India include IndiGo and Vistara.
Apart from aircraft engines, Pratt & Whitney also manufactures auxiliary power units. Provide us with an overview of the market for this product in India?
Since 1925, Pratt & Whitney has been a global leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines, auxiliary and ground power units, small turbojet propulsion products, and industrial gas turbines. We are an industry leader in the design, manufacture and maintenance of auxiliary power units (APUs). This capability has been built from our foundation as a major supplier of gas turbine engines for a wide range of turboprop, turbofan and turboshaft aircraft. Pratt & Whitney APUs include the APS5000 for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the APS3200 for the Airbus A320 family, the APS2600 for the Embraer E-Jets E2 family, and the PW900 family for the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747, among others.
Could you elaborate on the company’s service centres in the country?
We recently announced that Air India Engineering Services Limited (AIESL) will provide maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services in support of Pratt & Whitney GTF™ engines and its customers in the region. AIESL will service PW1100G-JM engines at its facility in Mumbai. Pratt & Whitney also has a number of field offices across India, focused on providing hands on, real-time support to our customers. We have also recently appointed Taj Air as a designated maintenance facility for the line maintenance of PW308C engines for Dassault Falcon 2000 business jets. Pratt & Whitney has a dedicated services brand called EngineWise™. It encompasses all the initiatives we have launched to help customers keep their fleets running smoothly. We are investing in new technologies including predictive analytics, developing new service offerings and improving communication channels to support customers. The advantage of EngineWise comes in our commitment to integrate our engine expertise and fleet intelligence into services that allow customers to optimize engine performance. We see the aftermarket as an extension of our commitment to customers.
Globally, Pratt & Whitney has supplied engines to military aircraft of various countries. Are there any plans in this regard in India?
Pratt & Whitney has more than 7,000 military engines in service with 34 armed forces around the world, powering tactical, strategic, mobility and rotary aircraft. This includes the Indian Air Force’s C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft, powered by our F117 engine, and its Pilatus PC-7 trainer fleet, powered by our legendary PT6A turboprop engine. In terms of future opportunities, the Indian Air Force and Navy are in the process of renewing several of their fleets. In consideration are the PW100-powered Airbus C295 light transport for the Air Force and the PW210-powered Sikorsky S-76D for the Navy Utility Helicopter programme.
Recently, the company was in the news in connection with a directive issued by India’s Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to some airlines carrying out operations with A320neo aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney engines. Has the issue been sorted out?
As an organization with seven decades of history in India, we continue to work closely with our customers to support their operations while retrofitting the GTF engine fleet to the latest configuration. With more than 150 GTF-powered A320neo family aircraft delivered to airline operators in India (IndiGo and GoAir) to date, we have achieved significant strides in the past year. Early engine durability issues are being resolved. We are fully committed to complying with the DGCA directive on upgrading the engines and are making rapid progress towards that goal.