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Pratt & Whitney's JT8D Engine Turns Half a Century Old

Monday, February 10, 2014

Pratt & Whitney's JT8D engine, an icon of aviation history, celebrates 50 years of dependable service this month, making it one of the most successful gas turbine engines in history. The JT8D engine entered service in 1964, and with approximately 1,800 engines still flying, Pratt & Whitney expects the engine to remain in service for another 10 to 15 years.

"During my entire career I never had a single one of these engines quit on me. I made many a takeoff on a hot day, at max gross weight, with a short runway, and five flaps takeoff where I put my total trust in these engines and they never failed me. I consider that remarkable," said Baron Shuler, MD-88/90 captain, Delta Air Lines. "I know that you have not manufactured this model engine in a long time, but please pass on to everyone my sincere appreciation and admiration to the people that designed and built this fine engine. If your new engines are half as good as the JT8D, they will be amazing."

More than 14,750 JT8D engines have been built, accumulating more than half a billion hours of service. At one point, JT8D engine sales and service contributed about half of United Technologies' profits. Today, it continues to generate revenue through overhauls, spare parts sales and kits to make it quieter and cleaner burning.

"At one point in time, a JT8D-powered airplane took off somewhere around the world every five seconds, 24/7/365. This statistic shows just how popular the engine was and how much the customer depended on it," said Charlie Crenshaw, JT8D fleet chief (retired), Pratt & Whitney.

"The dependability and success of the JT8D is largely due to the employees of Pratt & Whitney who have dedicated countless hours of hard work to ensure the customer always has a reliable product," said Andrew Tanner, vice president, Customer Service, Pratt & Whitney.

The JT8D engine traces its roots to the late 1950s, when a Pratt & Whitney J52 turbojet powered an early type of cruise missile called Hound Dog. With the addition of a two-stage fan and two additional low turbine stages, the engine that started as a "throwaway" on a missile evolved into the successful JT8D engine series. The JT8D-Standard engine family covers a thrust range from 14,000 to 17,000 pounds, while the newer JT8D-200 engine family offers 18,500 to 21,700 pounds of thrust.

The JT8D engine's first application was on the Boeing 727 trijet. It went on to power such aircraft as the Aerospatiale SE210 Caravelle, Boeing 737-100/-200, Douglas Corporation DC-9, McDonnell Douglas MD-80, Kawasaki C-1, Dassault-Mercure Breguet, and the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) E-8 aircraft.

In addition to the typical aerospace customer, the JT8D engine served a unique customer in Hollywood – Arnold Schwarzenegger. To escape from bad guys aboard a Boeing 727 in the thriller "Eraser," Schwarzenegger jumped from the airplane, expanded his parachute and carefully maneuvered to avoid being sucked into one of the three JT8D engines on the plane.

As evident, Pratt & Whitney's JT8D engine has garnered quite a prestigious reputation over the past 50 years. The engine shows Pratt & Whitney's commitment to providing dependable service to all customers.

This story contains forward-looking statements concerning future business opportunities. Actual results may differ materially from those projected as a result of certain risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to changes in government procurement priorities and practices, budget plans and availability of funding, and in the number of aircraft to be built; challenges in the design, development, production and support of advanced technologies; as well as other risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to those detailed from time to time in the company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

Photo Captions

Photos 1-2: This archive photo shows a busy JT8D production line in L Building, East Hartford, Conn.

Photo 3: A JT8D engine with open cowl doors on a DC-9 airplane.

Photo 4: A JT8D engine with open cowl doors on a Boeing 727.

Photo 5: Pratt & Whitney installs its 8,000th JT8D engine on a Boeing 727.