On this day 55 years ago, some U.S. Pratt & Whitney employees picking up the company newspaper, The Powerplant, got a bit of a surprise. Their "cousins" at Pratt & Whitney Canada (then known as Canadian Pratt & Whitney Aircraft) had built an engine of their own. It was called the PT6.
Founded in 1928, P&WC's original mission was to assemble and service Pratt & Whitney piston engines for the Canadian market. Who knew back then that the PT6 engine would eventually give birth to the single-engine turboprop market?
P&WC had assembled a team of 12 talented young engineers after studies showed a market opportunity for 500 shaft horsepower class turboprop engines in the aircraft market then powered by piston engines. P&WC saw an opportunity to channel some of the profits from its piston engine spare parts business towards the development of gas turbine engines smaller than those made by its U.S. parent.
Now with more than 53,000 PT6 engines manufactured and powering some 140 applications, no other engine can compare. What's more remarkable is that the PT6 engine is still P&WC's most popular engine and has a bright future ahead of it.