Thank you, Mr. Chair and committee, for this opportunity to speak today.
Disruptive technologies are an important element but not the only element of an innovation process. They can lead to true breakthroughs in the design, function, and costs of products, and contribute to significantly increasing our competitiveness. They must be recognized and even encouraged as part of a company's, an industry's, and a country's innovation strategy.
That being said, I'll take a few minutes to provide a brief overview of our strategy at Pratt & Whitney Canada, which has led to a number of game-changing products and technologies that we like to say spark the imagination and move the world. Over 87 years, we have demonstrated a deep commitment to research and development. This has enabled us to emerge not only as a world leader in our markets but as a key player in the development of Canada's aerospace industry. We've produced 85,000 engines to date, and more than 50,000 are still in service today. We have 12,000 operators around the world, in more than 200 countries and territories—probably more than recognized by the United Nations, at that.
Every second, a Pratt & Whitney Canada powered aircraft takes off or lands somewhere in the world. These flights have a real and positive impact on thousands of human lives each and every day: humanitarian missions, emergency medical services, search and rescue, reuniting families, and creating jobs, to name a few. To that end, it must be realized that the most critical characteristic of the product that we design, produce, and service is reliability. As part of the flying public, we, our families, all count on successful flights every day.
To that end as well, we operate in an industry framework that is highly regulated—appropriately so—and for which the time scale for demonstrated innovation is measured in many years. In the last 25 years, we have successfully certified and brought to market over 100 new engines, a record that is unmatched in the industry. We've also forged strong R and D collaborations with universities, research institutes, and other partners across Canada to develop these technologies and products. No fewer than 9 of the 13 research chairs supported by NSERC in aerospace are in association with Pratt & Whitney Canada.
On our innovation journey, we've also been able to count on the support of the Canadian government and Industry Canada, which have shared our vision to build a strong and prosperous aerospace industry. These investments in cutting-edge materials, high-efficiency technologies to enhance engine performance and reduce fuel consumption, and combustion systems to reduce noise and emissions are a big part of our development.
We're also creating world-class centres of excellence for advanced manufacturing. These will be dedicated to manufacturing highly complex components and to supporting small and medium enterprises. The unique high-strength properties of the very complex materials that are used require fully integrated and ultra-efficient production lines equipped with automation, closed-loop process control, and high-precision machining technologies.
If we look back, our very first engine, which was first delivered in 1963, was the iconic PT6 engine. It was developed after numerous false starts, and at one point we had well over the net worth of the company invested in the program. That engine was game changing, and it was a step up from the traditional piston engine powered aircraft. It essentially created a new brand and market. Since that first model, we've developed more than 50 variants, and within the same size of engine we have increased its power by more than 400%.
Disruptions in markets can also lead to opportunities for innovative technologies that are technology ready. This was the case in the mid-eighties, with our PW100 turboprop market. In the eighties, we shifted direction in response to opportunities opened by airline deregulation in the United States, a deep economic recession, and a big spike in aviation fuel prices. These factors suddenly made fuel-efficient turboprops more competitive vis-à-vis jets, and we were there to leverage that. Today, those engine families are by far the leaders in that market.
Finally, I'll talk about the example of one of our most powerful disruptive technologies, and it's in our newest engine family, which is called the PurePower PW800. The genesis of this engine is the revolutionary and disruptive geared turbofan or GTF engine that powers the C-series aircraft. It was developed in concert with our parent company, Pratt & Whitney. This disruptive technology suite was more than 15 years in the making, and it reflects the rigour of effort, development, and validation that is sometimes required for flight critical technologies.
In the aerospace industry, disruptive does not necessarily equate to fast. Nevertheless, the geared turbofan increases efficiency and delivers significantly lower fuel consumption, emissions, and noise. The advances in aerodynamics, in materials, in combustion, will set a standard for many generations to come.
I'll speak more generically about disruptive technologies. They have an important place in our value stream, whether it's engineering, manufacturing, or services. However, there are many barriers to adoption, particularly in engineering and manufacturing, due to the regulation I spoke of, or market and economic contexts.
While fuel burn performance will continue to be a key indicator in the future, speed indicators such as speed in design, speed in manufacturing, and speed in service are dramatically evolving. Key future focuses will include disruptive technologies that address speed in manufacturing, for example, and we hear a lot about 3-D printing as an example of a dramatic evolution in such technologies.
You just heard about innovation and the Internet of things. Speed in customer service is another example where customer feedback and problem-solving will turn a new leaf with social media, and customer data will be transformed with evolving intelligence and predictive analytics for revolutionary service, offering a more connected world.
With respect to the basic propulsion technology, we firmly believe that we're starting to be at the cusp of cheating physics, and as such disruptive technology at this end will be more a rethink of the aircraft's system and architectural optimization. Though still very theoretical, the future is bright.
To conclude, it should be clear that Pratt & Whitney Canada has no intention of resting on its laurels. We already are well into the design of a new turboprop engine to replace that engine we started in the mid-1980s. We have several disruptive ideas still on the drawing board, from more electric solutions to significant architectural design innovations targeting 35% fuel burn improvements over current architectures. To put the number 35% in perspective, the industry considers that a 1% per year improvement in fuel burn is a general measure of successful innovation.
The future holds plenty of opportunities for more disruptive innovations. If we remain flexible in our technology choices, encourage our academic institutions and industry to collaborate closely, and continue to promote our industry, we'll continue our legacy of innovations and successful products and services within the country.