PW4000 MRO shop Pratt & Whitney
PW4000 MRO shops are bracing for transitions to newer types.

PW4000 Family Sunset Beckons

Market for PW4000 MRO sees about 350 overhauls annually through 2027.

Eagle Services Asia, the Singapore-based joint venture of Pratt & Whitney and Singapore Airlines Engineering Co. (SIAEC), is revamping its entire business process. The changes will consolidate its Pratt & Whitney PW4000 overhaul activities, which used to be spread out over the facility’s two buildings, into one. The shop is making room for new work, including its emergence as the Asia-Pacific region’s first full-service shop for the Engine Alliance GP7200.

The changes are a sign of the times for the venerable PW4000 line, which includes three general families: a 94-in.-fan version, 100-in.-fan version, and a 112-in.-fan version. After nearly three decades in service for the oldest versions, all three are heading into their sunset period. A Jefferies survey of about 20 aftermarket services providers rated the PW4000 as the engine family most likely to see a year-over-year drop-off in their service portfolios, with 31% projecting a downturn. It was one of three engine types—along with the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 and GE CF6-80E1—that none of the survey respondents see having an uptick this year.

Figures from Aviation Week’s Commercial Fleet & MRO Forecast lay out the imminent decline. The aggregate PW4000-family fleet is projected to shrink from 1,850 at the end of this year to 824 by 2028. The current-year fleet is dominated by 94-in. engines. In a decade, roughly half of the fleet will consist of 94-in. models. The average annual decline is 8.6%, and that factors in about 90 projected deliveries.

The fleet decline will translate into a gradual downward trend in MRO spending as the oldest widebodies powered by the engine are ushered aside. Even so, PW4000 MRO work is projected to generate $11.1 billion during the next decade. Spending is expected to peak this year, at $1.8 billion, or 16% of the 10-year total. The decrease will not be consistent year-over-year, but the downward trend is clear; 2026 and 2027 are expected to combine to generate about $1.3 billion. MRO revenue is projected to decline by an average rate of 9.7% annually throughout the decade.

Pratt & Whitney

PW4000 MRO shops are bracing for transitions to newer types.

A breakdown of the PW4000-powered in-service fleet details the reasons behind the decline. The engine family has proven to be one of the most versatile turbofans ever built, with versions available on the workhorse Boeing 747-400, multiple generations of Airbus and Boeing widebody twins and the MD-11 trijet, among others. Each of them are coming to the end of their service lives, however, meaning that engine overhaul demand is falling.

Source: Aviation Week Commercial Fleet & MRO Forecast

The most stable PW4000 platform is the Airbus A330, Aviation Week data show. The -200 and -300 will combine for 136 engine MRO events in 2018 and generate 116 in 2027. 

The 777-200s/-300s, powered by 112-in. PW4000s, will see the largest decline, dropping from 150 to 40 during the decade. But strong demand in the airframe’s waning years around the turn of the decade will contribute to a total overhaul demand of about 820 events—tops among all PW4000-powered aircraft families.

From a macro perspective, the most active aircraft is expected to be the 747-400, with 660 total overhauls. The four-engine configuration skews this, of course: 2027 is expected to see only 40 PW4000 overhauls generated by 747s—the equivalent to life-extensions for 10 airframes.

The PW4000 family will average about 350 overhauls annually for the next decade, with the majority toward the first part of the decade. Annual totals will surpass the average figure in each of the next five years, led by 2018’s 540 figure. The high-water mark for the second half of the decade is expected to be 2024’s 380 shop visits, the Aviation Week forecast indicates.

Breaking down the work by family, the 94-in. version will account for about 1,500 overhauls, with the 100-in. models generating about 1,100 and the 112-in. version about 800.

Regionally, the industry’s most dominant markets—North America, the mature-markets leader, and Asia-Pacific, including China, the globe’s preeminent emerging markets—will dominate PW4000 work, claiming 80% of the MRO-revenue generation over the next decade, or about $8.8 billion. The Asia-Pacific/China markets will claim about $5 billion of this, or 60%.

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