Singapore Air Show

IAE claims big gains in store for SelectOne-powered A320s

 - February 11, 2008, 8:49 AM

Visitors to International Aero Engines’ V2500 SelectOne Web site are invited to play an interesting game–in the spirit of creative marketing.

Input the type and quantity of V2500-powered aircraft in your fleet of single-aisle Airbuses, then the current price of kerosene and you’ll be rewarded with figures showing the amount of fuel you will be saving compared to those equipped with the competing CFM International CFM56. Other windows provide similar comparisons with oil and emissions.

To belay potential reactions from CFM’s lawyers, IAE adds a comprehensive explanation of the assumptions behind the claims. Nevertheless, the idea reflects the four-partner consortium’s bullish attitude about the improvements it has made to the V2500, the only competitor to the CFM56 on all Airbus A320-series aircraft with a claimed 50-percent average share of the market.

In December, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration granted FAR33 certification for the V2500 SelectOne build standard following a three-engine, 45-hour flight-test program. This approval has cleared the way for IAE to deliver to Airbus the “first of model” engines for flight testing aboard an A320 by the end of March. Service entry is to follow in September, with Indian low-cost airline Indigo.

Low-cost carriers account for around 60 percent of IAE’s sales, a feature that senior vice president, customers, Phil Harris, said reflects the ease with which airlines can analyze V2500 ownership costs. “They can get to the bottom line more easily. There are no hidden extras in aftermarket sales, so the airlines can plug the figures into their spreadsheets and work out their exact costs,” he told AIN.

So far, more than 1,200 V2500 Select One engines have been sold to over 20 customers. “We have offers out to around 15 more existing and potentially new customers,” said Harris. He added that US Airways’ decision on December 11 to purchase the engine to power as many as 153 Airbus single-aisle aircraft in a deal worth £1.3 billion was a major success. “This was a landmark,” said Harris. “They already have 100 CFM-powered aircraft in service, so going with us represented a real victory.”

The changes that led to the V2500 SelectOne represent a major milestone in the development history of the V2500, according to Harris. “This is the first significant upgrade since the original V2500-A1 was improved to make the A5 version back in 1993,” he said. The result is a one-percent reduction in fuel burn, a corresponding cut in carbon dioxide emissions, a 20-percent increase in on-wing time and a claimed 40-percent reduction in miscellaneous shop visits.

Harris said the company deliberately chose the SelectOne name “to reflect our commitment to improving the V2500 and the aftermarket services that go with it.” It will label further improvements SelectTwo, SelectThree and so on. “As an original equipment manufacturer we believe there is an intrinsic advantage in choosing IAE for aftermarket support because airlines will benefit from the latest developments we, as an OEM, are unique in being able to develop.”

In developing the SelectOne package, IAE’s two main partners–Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce–have contributed their advanced military and civil engines technology, respectively, to a fundamental change in the gas path through the engine, according to the company. Their involvment includes introducing elliptical leading edges to the high-pressure compressor blades along with redistributed cooling and a “super polish” finish on the blades. Other upgrades have included minor blade re-stagger and the addition of film cooling, as well as state-of-the-art coatings on the HP turbine and re-staggering of the low-pressure turbine.

Overall, 2007 was another big year, leaving IAE with a backlog of more than 1,600 engines to be delivered, worth around two years’ production. Of these, 1,400 are to the SelectOne build standard. As with the A1 to A5 update, customers can retrofit the SelectOne improvements to their existing engines under the V2500 Select aftermarket program. The company expects production to reach 400 annually by the end of this year.

“It looks as if they will continue the roller coaster we’ve been on through 2007,” said Harris. “Three years ago we were selling for delivery in two or three years. Now you can’t get delivery before 2012. We don’t see the momentum abating yet.” Part of the optimism comes from what Harris calls China’s “relentless appetite” for single-aisle aircraft.

The IAE partnership among Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce, Germany’s MTU and Japanese Aero Engines has clearly been a success. But is it likely to stretch into the post-V2500 era? “At Paris, the partners got together and said IAE was the preferred route to market for this category of aircraft,” said Harris. “We reaffirm that on a regular basis.”