Pratt & Whitney, over the past seven decades has actively powered aerospace growth in India and strengthen its overall aerospace ecosystem. Considering India as a key strategic market and aligned to the government’s vision with its customer centric approach, Pratt & Whitney’s engagement with India is extensive with expanding footprint across R&D, sourcing, MRO and more.
Ashmita Sethi, President and Country Head, Pratt & Whitney in an interview with Ajit K Thakur, Editor, Raksha Anirveda, explains about the company’s strategy for India, its support to the Indian Armed Forces modernisation and the role it has been playing as a partner to advance India’s aerospace ecosystem. Edited excerpts:
RA: What is Pratt & Whitney’s strategy for India?
AS. India is a key strategic market for Pratt & Whitney. Pratt & Whitney has actively powered aerospace growth in India and strengthen its overall aerospace ecosystem over the past seven decades. From the ‘Parshuram’ Douglas DC-3 aircraft that served the armed forces in 1947, and the JT9D on the 747s, to the V2500s on IndiGo’s A320ceo fleet in mid 2000s that ushered in the new age of private aviation in India, and the revolutionary and fuel efficient GTF (geared turbofan) that are powering India’s modern commercial fleet – we are proud to have been India’s ‘engine power’ across commercial, defence, regional and general aviation.
As India advances its aerospace ecosystem through forward looking policies on MRO, Skilling, regional aviation and manufacturing – Pratt & Whitney is aligned to the government’s vision. We established Air India Engineering Services Limited (AIESL) as a provider of maintenance services in support of GTF operators in India and the surrounding region. The Taj Air facility in Mumbai services PW308C engines for Dassault Falcon 2000 aircraft, as well, and is a great example of our commitment towards India.
Another example of our continued involvement in India’s aerospace growth is our world-class India Customer Training Center (CTC) in Hyderabad. The center provides advanced training for airline customers, MRO operators, as well as industry and university skill development programs, to spur the growth of the aviation sector in India. The India CTC has imparted 11,500 student days of training to over 39 operators representing over 27 nationalities since its launch.
India has significant market access, innovation capabilities, talent pool and cost competitiveness to offer – and we see India as a mutual partner for success. That’s why we continue to expand our footprint across R&D, sourcing, MRO and more – and we share further updates soon.
RA: How is Pratt & Whitney supporting the modernisation of Indian Armed Forces with its large portfolio of businesses across commercial and military aviation?
AS. At Pratt & Whitney, we have the expertise and experience of powering a wide range of aircraft which are optimized for diverse missions. This includes regional and commercial airlines, firefighting, aerial surveillance, cargo transport, civil defence and humanitarian missions. In terms of our military expertise, we have been powering tactical, strategic, mobility and rotary aircraft for 34 armed forces and have more than 7000 military engines in service around the world.
We have a solid foundation and association with India which spans over seven decades. Pratt & Whitney offers a diverse portfolio of advanced propulsion solutions to the Indian Air Force (IAF) which includes the F117 engines on the IAF’s 11 C-17 Globemasters, and the PT6A turboprop engine on its 75 PC-7 trainers. Our PT6A also powers India’s indigenous NAL-Saras and serves as a great example of our partnership with local aircraft development programs.
At this juncture, we also look forward to powering the IAF’s C-295 aircraft fleet with our versatile, dependable, and efficient PW127G family of engines. Additionally, as India selects its 114 fighters for MRFA, we are keen to power India’s F-15EX with our advanced and reliable F100-PW-229 engines.
RA: So, should India look forward to the F100-PW-229 powering the F-15EX for the IAF’s 114-fighter requirement?
AS. As makers of the world’s first operational fifth-generation engine, the F119 for the F-22 and the world’s most advanced fighter engine F135 for the F-35, Pratt & Whitney’s history and expertise with advanced propulsion systems is unmatched. Therefore, as India selects its 114 fighters for the MRFA, we definitely want to power India’s F-15EX with our F100-PW-229 engines.
The F100 engine has been entrusted by the U.S. Air Force to power every F-15 in its operational fleet since the aircraft’s first flight in 1972; and its safety, reliability, and performance record with the F-15 is second-to-none. The F100-PW-229 is technologically fully capable of powering the most challenging missions against any adversary – now and in the future. The engine’s fully modular architecture ensures ease of maintenance and incorporates leading edge technologies in materials, cooling, and health management including some advanced 5th generation technology. The latest upgraded F100-PW-229 is also fully capable of integrating with the F-15EX’s fly-by-wire flight control system.
These superior features, along with quality and value over the entire lifecycle, make the F100-PW-229 a superior propulsion system for this critical aircraft and for the Indian Air Force’s missions, now and into the future. The F100-PW-229 will be the engine of choice for India’s future mission needs and developing its next-gen ambitions.
RA: The Government has recently approved the procurement of 56 C295 military transport aircraft which are powered by the PW127 engine. Would you like to elaborate on this latest development?
AS. The procurement of 56 C295 transport aircraft is a major leap forward for not only IAF’s modernization but also for the Indian Government’s vision of self-reliant India. As some of the C295s are made in country, the program will also benefit India’s private aerospace sector, a win-win situation for every stakeholder.
We are proud to be the engine power for C295 with our PW127G engine, which are known to deliver industry leading low fuel consumption and carbon emission. With this advantage of low fuel burn during cruise, the PW127G engine provides the C295 aircraft with exceptional range and endurance for time-critical missions. The PW127G engines are part of Pratt & Whitney’s PW100/150 engine family, which powers several aircraft families around the world, performing a variety of missions in diverse climates and flying conditions.
Pratt & Whitney has been providing these engines to Airbus Defence and Space (ADS) since the C295 took its first flight in 1998 and since then we have shipped across more than 400 PW127G engines to ADS.
RA: What are your views on the indigenous AMCA program?
AS. Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) represents India’s desire to develop its own 5th Gen platform – and this ambitious defence program will be a great leap forward in strengthening India’s defence and industrial capabilities. As the leading engine-maker in the world, Pratt & Whitney commands both experience and expertise in delivering the most advanced propulsion systems to the world, and that’s why we truly understand that engine performance and development is a critical component in advancing any new warfighter platforms. At Pratt & Whitney, we are happy to engage with India and look forward to working with our customers on any opportunity that they see fit for us in the long run.