After five years of heavy hints but precious few details, Pratt & Whitney Canada has unveiled the first significant information and images about research and development tests of electronic engine controls and an integrated propeller controller for a new 2,000-shp-rated PT6.

The move, which comes as General Electric prepares to make the first run of its competing Advanced Turboprop (ATP) for Cessna’s Denali, is aimed at bolstering the PT6’s market position, particularly in the high-power sector. “Electronic engine controls aren’t just there to start the engine – the PT6 already starts easily. It will enable us to integrate the propeller, the engine and the entire propulsion system in a way we’ve never seen before,” says P&WC general aviation marketing VP Nicholas Kanellias.

“It is something we have been working on for a while and been running in a test cell. I can’t tell you where it is going to go – but we are very happy with the progress so far,” Kanellias adds. According to industry sources, however, the engine is targeted at several next-generation turboprop applications, including a larger Pilatus PC-12NG follow-on and a more powerful derivative of the Daher TBM900 family. Commenting earlier this year at the Heli-Expo event in Texas, P&WC president John Saabas also said a “Super PC-12 or a bigger King Air” would benefit from such an engine.

The availability of the new large turboshaft “is going to create a new market. It is not about just replacing what we do, it is about creating the ability for aircraft manufacturers to build on our vision of more power and better efficiency and leveraging that electronic controller to enable a propulsion system that frankly has never been done before,” says Kanellias.

The new 2,000-shp engine “will likely take the same approach as we do with PT6 today – we have PT6Cs that fly as turboshafts and we have large PT6 turboprops,” says Kanellias. P&WC had said earlier this year that it has identified a gap in its product range between the 1,750-shp PT6C-67C/E and the 2,300-shp PW100 family of engines, and would likely fill that with a further development of the PT6C core. A series of demonstrators of new elements of the engine are running today, and a full demonstrator is expected to run by year-end.

The upgraded control feature “is not only going to simplify how the pilot operates the engine – it will connect all of our digital systems and our network to enable that customers anywhere in the world know what is going on with their engine and how it is integrated with the maintenance plan,” says Kanellias.