Here's a look at five Greater Hartford executives and leaders who will likely make headlines in 2014. The Hartford Business Journal will keep close tabs on this influential group and report back a year from now what they accomplished.
One thing's for certain for David Brantner, a second-degree black belt in tae kwon-do who is Pratt & Whitney Co.s' new commercial-engines chief: His dojang visits have fallen off, but his frequent-flier mileage is headed through the roof.
Following his promotion last June to Pratt's president of commercial engines, Brantner, 46, is essentially in charge of putting as many of the East Hartford jet-engine maker's blockbuster geared turbofan engines onto the world's airliners as he can. Pratt spent more than $1 billion and 20 years developing what it hails as the quietest, most fuel-efficient aeropropulsion unit ever devised.
His new boss is Paul R. Adams, a top Pratt engineer with a hand in developing the geared turbofan. Adams ascended as Pratt's president New Year's Day.
Though five of the world's leading airframe builders — among them Europe's Airbus for its 320neo and Canada's Bombardier for its CSeries regional jetliner — committed to versions of Pratt's PurePower engine, dozens of potential airline customers remain, representing billions in orders for engines, spares, parts and service contracts.
So far, Pratt has firm and optional orders worth billions for as many as 4,800 PurePower engines.
"This is truly a game-changing engine,'' said Brantner. "Our job is to keep selling more.''
Hawking Pratt's bread-and-butter engines isn't new to Brantner. From 2005 to 2011, he was a strategy vice president with a key role in Pratt's acquisition of a major stake in its former International Aero Engines partnership with Britain's Rolls-Royce.
His main goal in 2014 is building on Pratt's more than 50 percent share of the engine market for Airbus's next-generation 320neo, which could mean between another 500 to 800 PurePower orders.
"That would be a good year,'' Brantner said.
Pratt claims one PurePower-equipped 320neo jet would save $2 million a year in fuel and other operating overhead.
Its chief rival to power the 320neo and other jets is the CFM International engine collaboration between Fairfield's General Electric Co. and France's Safran.
With the 320neo closing in on certification this year and Japan's Mitsubishi Aircraft slated to begin testing PurePowers aboard its newest plane, Brantner says he'll be spending even more time away from his home state.
"I'm logging a few more miles, yes,'' he said. "We're used to being on the road.''
Brantner grew up in Enfield, where he graduated from Enfield High in 1985. After earning a finance degree from Boston's Northeastern University, he entered GE's management-training program. He joined Pratt in 1993.
A married father of three high-schoolers, the Farmington resident vows to make the most of his loyalty travel points.
"Once I get off the road," Brantner said, "I'll maybe use those frequent flyer points to take them somewhere to make up for all the time I've been away."
Read HBJ's other 5 to Watch in 2014 features:
Bruce Becker, private developer
Andrea Barton Reeves, president and CEO, HARC
Charles Lee, scientific director, Jackson Laboratory
Lori Pelletier, executive secretary-treasurer, Connecticut AFL-CIO