Pratt & Whitney Starts Flight Tests of MRJ Engine

Flight tests of the PW1200G geared turbofan for Mitsubishi’s Regional Jet (MRJ) got under way at Mirabel, Canada, on April 30.

The engine was flown on Pratt’s second Boeing 747SP flying testbed, which is modified with an upper fuselage-mounted stub wing to test smaller turbofans and turboprops.

Pratt & Whitney expects to run through the initial flight test campaign as planned despite Mitsubishi’s announcement in late April that it has delayed delivery of the first aircraft by up to two years, to the first quarter of 2016. First flight, previously slated for this quarter, is now expected to take place in the fiscal year beginning April 1, 2013.

The flight test engine joins three other complete MRJ units and a core PW1200G in the evaluation campaign.

The MRJ engine enters flight test as Pratt starts the final stages of certification for the 24,000 lb. thrust PW1500G engine for Bombardier’s CSeries. “We have four key tests in front of us,” says Bob Saia, Pratt & Whitney VP-next generation product family.

Engine 805 is in the company’s Middletown, Conn., assembly and test site in readiness for the flocking bird strike test, in which several carcasses will be fired into the engine. At least one of the birds must pass directly into the high-pressure compressor inlet for the test to count, adds Saia.

Another engine, 806, also is being readied for a third and final flight test on Pratt’s first Boeing 747SP. The engine will be used to validate the final software load for the start of flights on the CSeries late this year or early in 2013.

The engine also will include a final improvement package to boost fuel burn. Saia says the final configuration will meet performance guarantees. Flight tests of the production standard engine, including the variable-area nozzle, will take place in July and August.

Other key tests include a full fan-blade-out evaluation in late July, which will clear Pratt’s final production build standard for follow-on manufacture. Another engine will also conduct cyclic endurance testing starting in late July, culminating in a triple “red line” ultimate temperature and speed test.

Source: Guy Norris

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