Pratt & Whitney Wins 300 Engine Order for IndiGo Jets

United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney unit said its geared turbofan engine was selected by India’s IndiGo Airlines for 150 Airbus SAS A320neo models, which was the largest order from a carrier.

The discount airline’s order for the twin-engine plane represents at least 300 PurePower engines and brings Pratt & Whitney’s total orders for the product to more than 1,200, including firm and options, East Hartford, Connecticut-based Pratt & Whitney said in a statement. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Pratt & Whitney has yet to release a list price for the PurePower engine models.

The new engine has an estimated performance improvement of 16 percent, and the company estimates it can achieve another 10 percent boost by 2025, Pratt & Whitney President David Hess said earlier this month. The geared turbofan competes on the A320neo with the Leap-X from CFM International, a venture of General Electric Co. and Safran SA of France.

“The engine is such a great value proposition, if you look at all the fuel burn benefits and everything else that it offers, there’s enough value there for the operator, the airline to be happy, and for us to be happy,” Hess said in an interview today.

Hess reiterated the company’s earlier guidance that development costs to prepare for production may curb 2011 profit at the unit by $50 million. Pratt & Whitney is also likely to benefit from military production increases because its engines are on Boeing Co.’s winning bid for aerial refueling tankers.

Three-Decade Record

Planned production increases are the biggest in three decades in the Connecticut plants, for large engines, Hess said. Pratt & Whitney will build and test Lockheed Martin Corp’s F35 Joint Strike Fighter and tanker engines in its Middletown plants and the company is still working out its Geared Turbofan production plans, he said.

“Last time we did 1,000 engines it was 1983,” Hess said. “We may be up to that level again by as early as 2016. So we’re looking at a very steep ramp-up ahead of us in the mid-part of the decade for both military and commercial.”

Its F135 engine is the primary powerplant for Lockheed Martin’s joint strike fighter. Pratt & Whitney is siding with the Pentagon in opposing GE’s alternate engine program.

The U.S. Defense Department last week told GE and Rolls-Royce Group Plc, its venture partner on the alternate engine, to halt work until there is more explicit direction from Congress. The order doesn’t terminate the engine program Ashton Carter, defense undersecretary for acquisition, said in an interview last week.

‘A Little Behind’

None of the military funding legislation pending in Congress for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30 includes money for the alternate engine. The House voted last month to strip $450 million for the second engine from the fiscal 2011 Pentagon spending bill, which Congress hasn’t yet passed.

The program has delivered 18 engines and is “a little behind where we’d like to be, but nothing that’s going to impact airplane deliveries or impact the program this year," Hess said.

‘‘Certainly we’re delighted with the vote in the House and where things seem to be going in Congress right now with respect to funding the extra engine,” he said. “But I don’t think they’re going to just take their toys and go home. The best way for us to ensure that we beat them is to be sure we execute flawlessly.”

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