Alcoa (New York, N.Y., USA) announced on July 14 a 10-year, $1.1 billion agreement with Pratt & Whitney, a division of United Technologies Corp., for state-of-the-art jet engine components. Under the deal signed at the 2014 Farnborough International Air Show, Alcoa will supply key parts for Pratt & Whitney’s engines, including the forging for the first ever aluminum fan blade for jet engines. The forging was developed for Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower engines using an advanced aluminum alloy and a proprietary manufacturing process. Also for the PurePower engines, Alcoa is developing a fan blade forging using its most advanced aluminumlithium alloy.
Under the $1.1 billion deal, Alcoa will supply components for Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower PW1000G, V2500, GP7000 and several other regional jet and military engines. The geared turbofan architecture of the PurePower engine allows for aluminum alloys to be used in the Pratt & Whitney designed fan blades, making the engine lighter, as well as more fuel and cost efficient. The PurePower engine will be used to power some of the world’s highest volume aircraft, including the nextgeneration Airbus A320neo.
“We’re going where no materials scientist has gone before,” says Alcoa chairman and CEO, Klaus Kleinfeld. “Combining Alcoa’s proprietary alloys and unique manufacturing processes with Pratt & Whitney’s design, we cracked the code on forging an aluminum fan blade that is lighter and enables better fuel efficiency. Through this exciting new 10-year deal, Alcoa will deliver not only aluminum fan blade forgings but also a range of other advanced product forms, from blades and vanes to structural castings, for some of Pratt and Whitney’s bestselling engines.”
Pratt & Whitney’s advanced gear system allows the fan to rotate at a slower speed and the hot section to operate at higher speeds, optimizing the running conditions of both. The large, lightweight fan moves more than 90 percent of the air around the core, delivering a quiet engine with very low fuel burn. The larger fan diameter also opened the door to materials beyond titanium and composites.
Alcoa plans to use aluminum and aluminuml-ithium from its Pittsburgh, Pa., USA, and Lafayette, Ind., USA, facilities for the front fan blades, which will be produced using proprietary manufacturing processes at its Cleveland, Ohio, USA, plant.