Turbine engines have transformed aviation since the 1940’s and one that has a long history of powering helicopters is Pratt & Whitney Canada’s legendary PT6 engine. Under the umbrella of AHS Montreal Ottawa Chapter, David Meisels, Senior Product Manager for helicopter marketing at Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC), was at Concordia University on November 21st, 2017 to talk about this iconic engine.
Initially a servicing and production facility for radial piston engines, the Pratt & Whitney Canada facility on the South Shore of Montreal was established near the St. Lawrence River for float plane access. After assembling a team of 12 talented young engineers to develop a turbine engine in the aircraft market then powered by piston engines, P&WC successfully introduced the first PT6 turboprop engine in 1963.
Today, the PT6 engine powers aircraft and helicopters around the world in missions ranging from firefighting and search & rescue to corporate and utility operations. More than 58,000 PT6 engines have been produced and the fleet’s total flight hours is fast approaching 440 million hours.
The design philosophy behind the PT6 engine is one of reliability. And while the PT6 design originates from a time without computers, the engine still boasts powerful performance, cutting-edge features and unmatched versatility. The engine’s untouchable record for hours of flight without incidents is why the PT6 is the only turboprop engine to have achieved Single-Engine Instrument Flight Rules status for passenger revenue activity in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
One of P&WC’s popular engine is in a twin-engine turboshaft configuration. The iconic PT6T Twin-Pac® engine consists of two PT6 power sections coupled to a combining gearbox with a novel clutch system enabling both twin- and single-engine operation. It provides redundancy over rough terrain or ocean during low altitude missions that might involve hovering where autorotation would not always be possible. All ocean rescue helicopters are required to have a twin-engine configuration such as this. P&WC, who has recently reached a remarkable milestone with the production of its 100,000th engine, is certainly at the forefront of the industry. We can except to see other milestones and innovations such as the PT6C-67A engine – which powers the Leonardo AW609 tiltrotor currently in development.
On behalf of the AHS Montreal Ottawa Chapter and all the attendees, we would like to thank David Meisels for this rich and insightful presentation, delivered by a very talented speaker!