A jet engine for White Knight 2

Pratt & Whitney Canada announced today that Virgin Galactic has picked its PW308 engine for use on the White Knight 2 aircraft that will be the carrier aircraft for SpaceShipTwo. The engine, which generated up to 30,700 newtons (6,900 pounds) of thrust, has been used on a number of bizjets; the press release doesn’t indicate how many such engines WK2 will use. The release does state that P&WC will work with Virgin on the potential use of “advanced biofuels” to reduce engine emissions, reducing the system’s overall carbon footprint by up to 50 percent.

9 comments to A jet engine for White Knight 2

  • Peter Shearer

    It’s funny that they put it that Virgin Galactic picked “it’s” engine for WK2. Seeing as how VG is the spaceline and Scaled Composites is the manufacturer.

    This is like Southwest Airlines picking it’s engine for the new Boeing Dreamliner… Duh, does not compute… Error error Will Robinson! :)

    The biofuel is a nice (Virgin) touch though. Is it just me or is Virgin trying to snag up all the publicity on this? Not that Burt or Scaled likes publicity… So maybe this works out nicely?

  • Roro

    Peter, the airlines do determine which engine their new aircraft gets. For example should Southwest decide to buy 787’s they will have to decide if they are going to put Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines or General Electric GEnx engines on their aircraft. Look at the press releases form Rolls-Royce: http://www.rolls-royce.com/media/search.jsp They are talking about airlines selecting their engines not Boeing, Airbus or Embraer.

  • Peter Shearer

    Really? How weird. Thanks for the correction…

  • Larry J

    It isn’t wierd at all when you think about it. Suppose the airline already has a fleet with a lot of GE engines. There can be advantages with sticking with that type of engine (such as the possibility of common test equipment, tools, and mechanic experience). Mixing a lot of different engine types and manufacturers complicates logistics.

    My guess is that Scaled either selected this engine outright or gave Branson a choice. If given a choice, Branson may have had a secondary goal such as compatability with biofuels.

    White Knight 2 is going to be considerably larger than WK1. I’d be surprised if two of these engines would be powerful enough to get WK2 and SS2 up to 50,000 feet unless WK2 has a truly monster wingspan.

  • Thomas Matula

    I agree, its likely to have more then two engines.

    It also looks like they are running at least a year behind on roll-out if this report from last year was accurate.


    Date: 25/07/06
    SOURCE: Flight International

    Farnborough: White Knight 2 to go on display

    By Rob Coppinger at Farnborough air show

    Virgin Galactic promises to exhibit carrier aircraft in 2007 as it gets ready to unveil SpaceShipTwo’s interior

    [[[Speaking at Farnborough, space tourism company Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn said White Knight 2 “will be displayed in July or August next year. The Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford wanted White Knight there, but it will not be ready for an air show until 2008. Next year we will display it and then begin testing,” he added.]]]

    This is why it is surprising they are just now selecting the engines for it. Anyone hear an update on when roll-out is due?

  • and this ‘biofuels’ detail goes right back to the post a few days ago, about emissions. virgin is taking this issue seriously (or their PR department is taking it seriously…)

    take care. mjl

  • james lee

    the PW 308 is a good engine.

    It’s a little small for their weights, i wonder if they will
    opt for 3 or 4 engines on WK2?

    If they just selected the engines, it means they are
    just going forward with WK2 design.

    If they are smart, SS2 is done. If they aren’t, they
    are still working on a lot of territory.

  • Will Jordan

    Peter , the other aspect is that for instance EADS/Airbus can compete with Boeing for US contracts (civ and mil) cuz they are using GE Engines just as Euro airlines can compete here with P&W or GE and Boeing can use RR engines over there – for something like a 747 it’s a GE CF 6 vs and RR RB211 and a P&J … something slipped my head right now ..

  • Jerry Howell (P&W Instructor)

    Will, the P&W engine for a 747-400 would be the Pw4000 94 inch fan. Earlier models (-100,-200,-300) used P&W JT9D engines, same fan diameter.

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