In response to environmental concerns that began in the 1970s, the company began developing a new version of the engine, the JT8D-200 series. Designed to be quieter, cleaner, more efficient, yet more powerful than earlier models, the -200 Series power-plant was re-engineered with a significantly higher bypass ratio (1.74 to 1) covering the 18,500 to 21,700 pound-force (82 to 97 kN) thrust range and powering the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 series. This increase was achieved by increasing bypass fan diameter (from 39.9 to 49.2 inches) and reducing fan pressure ratio (from 2.21 to 1.92. Overall engine pressure ratio was also increased from 15.4 to 21.0.
Since entering service in 1980, more than 2,900 of the -200 series engines have been produced.
The JT8D-217 and -219 engine(s) were tested in 2001 and were deemed suitable replacements for the old TF33 engines on military and commercial aircraft as part of the Super 27 re-engining program. The updated engines offer reduced (Stage-3) noise compliance standards without the need for hush kits, enhanced short field performance, steeper and faster climb rates with roughly a 10% reduction in fuel burn for extended range.
Pratt & Whitney, in a joint venture with Seven Q Seven (SQS) and Omega Air, has developed the JT8D-219 as a re-engine powerplant for Boeing 707-based aircraft. Northrop Grumman has the -219 to re-engine the United States Air Force's fleet of 19 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (E-8 Joint STARS) aircraft, which will allow the JSTARS more time on station due to the engine's 17% greater fuel efficiency. NATO also plans to re-engine their fleet of E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft. The -219 is publicized as being half the cost of the competing 707 re-engine powerplant, the CFM-56, for reasons of geometrical and balance similarity to the engine it is replacing and the associated relative up-front wing modification costs of the two choices.
There have been discussions of using the engine, among other engine choices, for the B-52H, which is programmed for use until 2040.
Many variants of the JT8D family have been produced, covering the thrust range from 14,000 to 17,400 pounds and powering 727, 737, and DC-9 aircraft. More than 11,800 JT8D standard engines have been produced, accumulating over 600 million hours of service operation.
To ensure the JT8D-200 stays current with environmental regulations, Pratt & Whitney has developed a new low-emissions combustion system, or E-Kit, that is FAR 25-certified. The E-Kit reduces JT8D-200 NOx emissions by 25 percent, unburned hydrocarbons by 99 percent and smoke by 52 percent. The E-Kit exceeds all ICAO standards for new production engines and qualifies for the Swiss Class 5 (cleanest) emissions category.
P&W and Aviation Fleet Solutions (AFS) have jointly developed a noise reduction kit for JT8D-200 powered MD-80 aircraft. The kit enables operators to comply with Chapter 4 noise standards while maintaining thrust and performance levels, and was FAA/EASA certified in 2006. The kit includes an improved fan inlet liner, a 16-lobe mixer, a muffler, and a tabbed nozzle and can be installed on-wing.
Flight-testing of a JT8D-200-powered 707 in late 2001 demonstrated the -200's substantial performance improvements and feasibility to complete J-STARS and AWACS mission profiles.