Pratt & Whitney says it could offer almost a two-year time advantage to Embraer if it selects a variant of the PW1000G geared turbofan engine for its new-look E-Jet over a competing bid from incumbent General Electric.

The Brazilian aircraft maker is developing a radical upgrade of its larger E-Jet family, with the current focus on an all-new wing and extended landing gear. The additional clearance will provide room for larger, higher-bypass ratio turbofans aimed at providing fuel burn improvements of around 10% or more over the current models.

Pratt says it can have a variant of the PW1000G developed and flight-tested in time to support an entry-into-service target of late 2016, versus 2018 with a GE option. It is not known how soon Rolls-Royce, which is proposing a new two-spool Advance 2 engine based on an update of the original RB282, could offer its solution.

Pratt & Whitney’s vice president for the Next Generation Product Family, Bob Saia, says, “The competition is tough. But GE has got a long way to go to get a product installed, and we’ve shortened the envelope. We are in test and we have the benefit of being able to make enhancements.”

The thrust requirement for the Brazilian aircraft “sits on top of the engines for the CSeries and MRJ,” comments Saia, referring to the PW1500G and PW1200G in development for Bombardier and Mitsubishi. “What’s nice about the Embraer timing is we will be done with the MRJ and CSeries and from an overall timing perspective, we will be well into testing on the 30,000-lb.-thrust platforms (PW1100G for the A320NEO and PW1400G for Irkut MS-21),” he adds.

However, Saia cautions that Pratt is entering the contest for the E-Jet on a solid commercial basis and will not attempt to deliberately underbid just to secure a new platform. “At the same time, we are going to be good stewards of the business and not just buying market share.”

Embraer, which opted for the derivative approach in 2011 following Boeing’s decision to pursue the 737 MAX in place of an all-new design, remains tight-lipped on its plans. Speaking earlier this week at the meeting of the International Society of Air Transport Aircraft Trading (Istat) in Phoenix, Embraer Marketing Strategy Director Luiz Chiessi half-jokingly admitted: “I will not advance any information even under torture.” However, Embraer is believed to be focusing the bulk of its studies on a stretch of the E-190/E-195 that would see capacity on the larger model exceed 130 seats.

GE provides the CF34-8 for the E-170/E-175 and CF34-10 for the E-190/E-195, and is developing a new centerline regional jet engine dubbed NG34 as a CF34 successor. Both NG34 and a parallel business jet engine development called Passport leverage high-pressure compressor and turbine technology now being developed and tested in the eCore demonstrator series. This is an advanced gas generator design that also forms the heart of CFM’s Leap engine for the Airbus A320NEO, Boeing 737 MAX and Comac C919 airliners. The Passport will be rated at 16,500 lb. thrust, with the NG34 expected to bracket the 18,000-21,000-lb. range.

GE appears to be quietly confident of protecting its exclusive supplier status on the E-Jet with Embraer. At the end of January, the engine maker started advertising for candidates to be product development system leader for the NG34, responsible for “product entry on the next Embraer transport aircraft.”

Saia comments that even though GE has the advantage of being the incumbent, it also has a full development plate. “GE has the Leap for the Comac (C919), 737 MAX and A320NEO all in the same period and, even though they are a big company, they are resource restrained like any business.”