Dubai Air Show

Rolls-Royce plays catch-up in A350 engining battle

 - December 7, 2006, 11:22 AM

Not content to sit back and enjoy its Trent engines successes over the last two years, Rolls-Royce has kicked off its sales campaign to power the new Airbus A350 with optimistic forecasts despite launching the engine almost a year later than its competitor, General Electric.

“We fully expect to do very well in this region with the Trent 1700,” said Mike Terrett, R-R’s president, civil aerospace. “Since signing the memorandum of understanding with Airbus in October we’ve been out there competing. We’re the only engine specifically tailored to the A350. We might not have been first, but we will be fighting for a position in every competition.”

R-R came to the show celebrating the beginning of assembly of its Trent 1000 for the A350’s rival, the Boeing 787, on which it is the launch engine. The first Trent 1000 is on schedule to run in February 2006 with fan rig tests in Germany having already shown aerodynamic performance “exceeding computer modeling expectations,” said the UK engine maker. Maiden flight on the company’s Boeing 747 testbed is due in the first quarter of 2007, with certification in July and first flight on the 787 later in the summer.

Terrett was bullish at Dubai 2005 about R-R’s success in the last few years. “We’ve seen a threefold increase in our market share in airline products in the last two decades,” he said. The UK company claims to hold the number one position on new generation widebodies, with a 2:1 lead. Terrett said ordering is “very significant” and near record levels. Traffic in the Middle East grew at 15 percent in the first half of 2005. “Our forecast for this region over the next 20 years is for sales of 2,000 aircraft. That represents sales opportunities worth $31 billion,” he added.

R-R has more than 1,000 big turbofans either delivered or on order, but business is also building in the engine support area, said Terrett. “We have 11,000 civil engines  in service and we see a likely growth of 40 percent, to 15,500 engines, by the end of the decade. Of those, 40 percent are already managed under our TotalCare scheme for lifetime support. We expect that to grow to 80 percent in the same timescale.”