UTC, Rolls Drop Midsize Engine Pact

 - September 19, 2013, 5:02 PM

United Technologies and Rolls-Royce have agreed to drop plans to collaborate on a new family of engines for the 120- to 230-seat narrowbody market, “following further discussion and because of the current regulatory environment,” said UTC engine subsidiary Pratt & Whitney in a statement released Thursday.

The decision comes nearly two years after UTC and Rolls agreed to work together on high-bypass-ratio geared turbofan for future propulsion systems, including “advanced” geared engines and open rotor technology, under a restructuring plan that last year saw Rolls-Royce sell its stake in IAE to Pratt & Whitney for $1.5 billion. Rolls-Royce had even agreed to make a “modest” investment in the PurePower PW1000G geared turbofan now under development for the Airbus A320neo.

That deal came barely a year after Rolls-Royce and UTC filed dueling lawsuits against each other–Rolls against UTC for infringing the patent on its swept fan blade and, a month later, UTC against Rolls for allegedly misleading the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to obtain the patent. All the legal wrangling arose against the backdrop of an apparent disagreement between the IAE partners on how to proceed with the next generation of turbofan for the narrowbody market. Pratt & Whitney eventually chose to market the PW1000G Geared Turbofan on its own after Rolls-Royce opted out.

Now, the companies again appear headed in different directions, as Rolls-Royce proceeds on its own to develop an engine based on so-called open-rotor technology. “Rolls-Royce remains fully committed to this important market segment and will continue to invest in technologies that will enable us to take advantage of opportunities as they arise,” the company said in a statement.