Inspired by auto plants, Pratt & Whitney is embarking on a new way to build jet engines. For decades its hand-built engines were wheeled around the factory floor so that various specialists could work on them. The company has now installed automated assembly lines with ceiling-mounted jigs at its plants in Middletown, Conn., and West Palm Beach, Fla. The setup will help speed production of advanced geared turbofan (GTF) engines that Pratt is selling to power a new generation of jets from Airbus, Bombardier, Embraer, and Mitsubishi.
The New Way
Workers will continue to assemble engines by hand. Now, however, the engines will be moved around on jigs mounted to tracks on the plant’s ceiling.