Pratt & Whitney’ s PW1100G-JM geared turbofan for the Airbus A320NEO began flight-testing on May 15 on the engine maker’s Boeing 747SP testbed in Mirabel, Canada.

“We’ll operate it for about 100 hours to get a good baseline,” says Bob Saia, vice president for the next generation products family. Some 365 hours of ground tests were earlier conducted at P&W’s West Palm Beach, Florida, site and the engine “performed well,” he says.

This is the third model of PW PurePower geared turbofan to enter flight tests, following the PW1500G for the Bombardier CSeries and the PW1200G for the Mitsubishi Regional Jet. It incorporates minor design adjustments made on the other two models, and thus exhibits a level of maturity rarely seen on a flight test engine, he adds. And as on the previous two models, P&W and Airbus have decided to eliminate the variable area fan nozzle as tests have proven the fan to be robust enough to avoid flutter without it.

PurePower engines have now logged more than 460 hours of flight testing.

The PW1100G is due to be certified early in the third quarter of 2014, and should power the A320NEO for its initial test flight shortly afterward. P&W currently has more than 1,150 PW1100G engines on firm order for the A320NEO, or more than half the overall market when one includes as-yet unannounced engine selections, says Todd Kallman, president of P&W Commercial Engines. Orders for all three models now exceed 3,500 engines.

The PW1100G competes with CFM International’s Leap1A, which is due to run for the first time in the third quarter. The first Pratt-powered NEO is planned to enter service in October 2015. “We believe we have the lower-risk engine right now,” says Saia.

The first flight-compliant production PW1100s are set to begin assembly in late 2013 to support the Airbus flight test and certification effort. This is scheduled to include four aircraft – two A320s, one A319 and an A321.

Pratt “initially targeted a 12% reduction in fuel burn,” with the GTF but now will achieve 15%, says Saia, adding that the expected performance benefits are reflected in the market penetration of the engine. The announcement of the PW1700G/1900G variants for Embraer’s second generation E-Jet series in January marked the fifth application for the PW1000G series after the CSeries, the A320NEO, the MRJ and Irkut’s MS-21 project.

The MC-21 “is on schedule and driving forward,” Kallman notes. “We’ve completed the preliminary design of the nacelle and we’re proceeding into detailed design.” The engine is very similar to that of the NEO, but has different power and air take-offs; the nacelle is being made by Bombardier’s Shorts Bros. in Northern Ireland. The MC-21 is scheduled to fly in the second quarter of 2105, with entry into service in 2017.