Pratt & Whitney turbine blade named historic mechanical engineering landmark

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has designated Pratt & Whitney´s Single Crystal Turbine Blade as a historic mechanical engineering landmark, recognized for its progression in mechanical engineering and aviation. Pratt & Whitney is division of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX), the company said.

The single crystal turbine blade joins more than 260 ASME landmarks around the world, 10 of them being in Connecticut.

The creation of the single crystal turbine blade began in the 1960s, when engineers Maurice (Bud) Shank and Frank VerSnyder at Pratt & Whitney led the effort to find a new turbine blade with higher strength and heat resistance. The original nickel alloy turbine blades were made of a metallic crystalline structure with grain boundaries, which are areas of weakness, making the components prone to fracture.

The single crystal blade eliminated these crystalline boundaries entirely, exhibiting greatly improved resistance to fracture, three times better corrosion resistance and nine times better creep performance when compared to conventionally cast materials.

About 8 million single crystal parts are cast annually for the aerospace industry. The first commercial aviation use of the new single crystal airfoils began in 1980 in the JT9D-7R4 jet engine powering the Boeing 747, McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 and Airbus A300 aircraft. The first production military use of single crystal airfoils began in 1983 with the P&W TF30 engine to power the F-111 and F-14 jet fighters as well as the F100 engine to power the F-15 and F-16 jet fighters.

Pratt & Whitney and ASME will celebrate the historical landmark designation on Feb. 21 at the New England Air Museum (NEAM) in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. A permanent display showcasing this technology will reside at the NEAM.

Since the invention of the wheel, mechanical innovation has critically influenced the development of civilization and industry as well as public welfare, safety and comfort. Through its History and Heritage program, the ASME encourages public understanding of mechanical engineering, fosters the preservation of this heritage and helps engineers become more involved in all aspects of history. In 1971 ASME formed a History and Heritage Committee composed of mechanical engineers and historians of technology.

Pratt & Whitney is a world provider of the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines and auxiliary power units. United Technologies Corp., based in Farmington, Connecticut, provides high-technology systems and services to the building and aerospace industries. To learn more about UTC, visit its website at, or follow the company on Twitter: @UTC.