As successor to Pratt & Whitney’s JT9D, Pratt’s PW4000 family powers the Airbus A300, 310 and A330, as well as Boeing 747-400, 767, 777, KC-46 and MD-11. Nearly 2,300 PW4000s are still in service this year; that is expected to decline slightly to 2,150 in 2019. Two-thirds are PW4000-94s now, but this share will decline to less than 60% in four years, as the -100 becomes more important, while the -112 stays fairly stable at about 330 engines.
This is a mature family of engines; they first operated in 1987, and the -112, designed for the 777, is its youngest model. As a whole, the PW4000 family will require a total of 2,730 shop visits in the five years from 2015-19, according to Aviation Week’s MRO Prospector. Activity will peak in 2016, with 573 visits, and in 2018, with 595. Here too, the -94 dominates, with about 60% of visits this year, declining to 56% in 2019. The -100 and -112 split the remainder, with the -100 requiring more than 600 visits over the period and the -112 slightly less than 600 visits.
Expenditures on PW4000 overhauls will total slightly more than $9 billion from 2015-19, MRO Prospector estimates. The peak years again are 2016 and 2018, with nearly $2 billion of shop work done in each of these years.
Pratt & Whitney Eagle Services Asia is the OEM’s global center of excellence for PW4000 engine overhauls. Based in Singapore, Eagle Services can overhaul up to 300 jet engines annually, or more than half the average shop visits expected in the medium term. In addition, “there are some airline and third-party engine MRO providers who possess capability for the PW4000 with varying limitations,” acknowledges William Kircher, vice president, Pratt & Whitney Singapore Overhaul & Repair and president, UTC Aerospace Singapore.
The market for PW4000 overhauls is not crowded, like that for narrowbody engines such as the CFM56. But the PW4000 family powers widebodies flown by some of the world’s largest airlines, so in-house airline capacity is substantial and often available to other carriers. For example, Air France KLM E&M supports the PW4000, and Lufthansa Technik and Delta TechOps overhaul the -94.
Though not huge, this is a valuable business. MRO Prospector estimates that total maintenance spending per engine-year will average nearly $600,000 for the -94, $800,000 per engine-year for the -100 and more than $1.7 million per engine-year for the -112. Actual costs will vary substantially, especially for overhauls. Kircher notes that overhauling a PW4000 can take a couple of weeks to several months, depending on the work-scope, model, age and condition of the engine.
Customizing work-scopes to fit each customer’s needs is probably most important for mature engines like the PW4000. Some aircraft and engines may not need all the life that could be added by the fullest overhauls. But these engines still power some very valuable widebodies, and declining oil prices may extend the lives of some older engines.
Access to used parts is especially important in economizing on repair costs for mature engines. As the OEM, Pratt offers a wide choice of new and used parts. But global MROs are also building up access to spare parts, using tear-down facilities and other means.