Mustang Runs With Pratt & Whitney

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They share the same basic philosophy and their performance and capabilities are almost identical: Will Cessna's Mustang and the Eclipse 500 now share the same basic engine? Pratt & Whitney Canada announced Thursday it will build a new type of small, efficient turbofan to power Cessna's new entry-level Mustang, which is seen as a direct competitor to the Eclipse 500. Eclipse has also been negotiating with Pratt & Whitney Canada since parting company with Williams International, the original supplier of engines for the Eclipse. Williams was also in the running for the Cessna deal, according to a Cessna press release. Eclipse claims to also be in negotiations with another yet-unnamed engine maker. On the same day the Cessna deal was announced, Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn was sending a letter to 1,357 Eclipse position holders telling them they'd be the first to know when the company had found an engine to replace the Williams EJ-22. "The bottom line is you are going to get a superior airplane as a result of this change, there is no doubt about it," Raburn's letter is quoted as saying in the New Mexico Business Weekly. Eclipse has acknowledged that the new mill will be larger and heavier, but will also put out more thrust than the EJ-22, which was supposed to develop 770 pounds of thrust from an 85-pound engine. Pratt & Whitney Canada's new PW600 series, of which the Mustang engine is a variant, would seem to match that description.

...Engine Series Designed For Mini-Jets...

Cessna chose the PW615F to power the Mustang. The engine is flat rated at 1,350 pounds of takeoff thrust and has a dual-channel Full Authority Digital Electronic Control (FADEC) system. The PW600 series is a new family of engines being developed by Pratt & Whitney Canada specifically for the mini-jet market and can be built to thrust ratings anywhere between 1,000 and 3,000 pounds. The company says the new engines have some 40 percent fewer parts than other engines it makes. "The key drivers for this new engine series have been defined as low cost of ownership and operating economics without compromising reliability, performance or durability and with minimum program risk," reads part of the description on the Pratt & Whitney Canada Web site. In the news release touting the Cessna deal, Pratt & Whitney Canada clearly hopes other mini-jet makers will hop on board. "This represents an important strategic win for us and sets the stage for additional orders for variants of the new PW600 engine family," said John Wright, VP of Business Aviation and Military Engines. Weight and fuel consumption figures are not available on the Web site; however, the TBO is set at 3,500 hours and there's a three-year, 1,000-hour warranty.

...Engine Certification In 2005

If Eclipse picks the new Pratt engine, it will set its development program back at least two years. Eclipse had hoped for FAA certification by the end of this year and deliveries in 2004. But Pratt & Whitney Canada only test-flew a 600-series engine for the first time last October and certification is planned for the end of 2005, a year before Cessna has said it can start delivering Mustangs. The other variable for Eclipse is cost. The financial terms of the Cessna/Pratt & Whitney Canada deal were not released but Cessna has pegged the cost of a Mustang at $2.3 million. Before the deal with Williams collapsed in November, Eclipse had promised to deliver their jet for $837,500. To our knowledge, Eclipse has not speculated on any price changes as the result of new engines. Stay tuned.