Airbus Testing New Pratt & Whitney Engine

Agreement gives the European airplane manufacturer access to new technology but Airbus downplayed the prospect of a deal to eventually buy the fuel efficient jet engines.

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Airbus has agreed to test Pratt & Whitney's new fuel efficient jet engine, giving the European airplane manufacturer access to new technology and the engine maker a chance to showcase its new product.
Flight testing of the Geared Turbofan is set to begin at the end of the year, the two companies said Monday.
Todd Kallman, president of Pratt & Whitney commercial engines, said the test will provide installation and operating data to evaluate the performance of the engine. Pratt & Whitney is a subsidiary of Hartford-based United Technologies Corp.
Airbus, based in Toulouse, France and a division of the European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. NV, downplayed the prospect of a deal to eventually buy Geared Turbofan engines.
''At this point in time, the tests do not imply either a technological or a business decision on future product developments,'' Airbus said in a statement.
Japanese machinery manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. has already chosen the Geared Turbofan to power its new mid-sized regional jet.
Pratt & Whitney has been developing the engine technology for 20 years. It says it provides significant improvements in fuel efficiency that will result in fewer carbon emissions and lower fuel costs for airlines, while generating less noise than other airplane engines.
Richard L. Aboulafia, a vice president at Teal Group Corp., an aerospace and defense industry research group in Fairfax, Va., called the Airbus deal ''quite significant.''
''It's a major step for the most important narrow-body manufacturer to be closely examining this engine,'' he said.
The test of the Geared Turbofan will use an Airbus-owned A340 flying test bed. The testing will provide information about takeoffs, landings, engine performance at various altitudes and other flight data.
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