Pratt & Whitney, the aircraft engine unit of United Technologies, is hiring 25,000 new workers through 2025 as it ramps up production of the breakthrough Geared Turbofan (GTF) engine. GTF technology delivers major reductions in fuel consumption, carbon emissions and noise by inserting a gearbox on the shaft running between the front and back rotating parts of a jet engine, thereby enabling each component to turn at optimum speed. It took Pratt 20 years and $10 billion to perfect GTF, but now the company stands to generate half a trillion dollars in revenues across the lifetime of the program by offering a propulsion system for airliners that no competitor can match. The company has had other successes of late, such as the high-performance powerplant used on the tri-service F-35 fighter, but Geared Turbofan has the potential to transform the commercial marketplace. With over 8,000 engines on order, Pratt is ramping up output by bringing on thousands of manufacturing employees and investing heavily in new production capabilities. The new capabilities aren’t just a result of installing cutting-edge technology at production sites; they are also about training workers at Pratt and in its supply chain to apply the technology to optimum effect. In the process, workers are becoming increasingly empowered, and workforce attrition has fallen to a mere 2%. So the Geared Turbofan engine is shaping up to be a breakthrough for American manufacturing on multiple fronts. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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