Turboprop Evolution and Amortization

Perhaps no one has a true sense of what amortization means more than Pratt and Whitney did once upon a time.  When it comes to turboprop aircraft sales, someone was betting long at Pratt.

Sure your accountant will tell you what it means for your jet or turboprop vs. an expense, but how about someone who amortized a really big number over a long period of time?  Well… the PT 6 is that story.

In short, the engine was developed and sold in the early 1960s.

Then 20 years went by.

According to the bean counters at then Pratt & Whitney and Gilles Gaudreault, a former QA guru on the PT 6 overhaul line, and many fascinated investors, the engines didn’t pay for their initial R&D until the mid 1980s.

Yes, they waited 20 years to get their money back.

Now, the amazing thing to us non-engineers is that despite the marvel of technology it is (and world wide trust that the PT 6 garners from pilots and operators) the fact is that the innards of it still look like Rube Goldberg had a bad acid trip.

Yes, I said it.  The term MTBF (mean time before failure) was not on the menu when they finally stitched it all together.  Having said that, this wikipedia page and this company profile both give a good overview of the little powerplant that could.

Just so that we are clear that we’re not some overly emotional aviation type that likes to wax on and on about an engine, take a look at this list.  Those are all the airplanes that have one, two or four in them.   Then see if you can match that with Honeywell, Walter, etc.  You’ll see that when it comes to turboprops – it is the true king.

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