Farnborough Air Show

GP7200 reduces weight to woo A380 customers

 - July 21, 2010, 7:57 AM

The Engine Alliance GP7200 engine is in the middle of a weight-reduction program that may further help sales as the General Electric-Pratt & Whitney joint venture is engaged in at least three campaigns: with Qatar Airways, Kingfisher Airlines and Vietnam Airlines. The engine maker (Hall 4 Stand A10) expects 19 Airbus A380s to be in service flying its turbofans by the end of the year.

According to Engine Alliance president Mary Ellen Jones, the GP7200 has lost 150 pounds since entry into service two years ago. “We were a bit above spec,” she said. An additional 50 pounds are to be saved on engines delivered at some point next year, which will be about 100 pounds better than specified, thanks to a new turbine exhaust case.

The new component is being evaluated on an engine being used for endurance trials. To “keep ahead of any issue,” Engine Alliance engineers have conducted this maturation program in an MTU test cell, where a GP7200 has already logged 3,000 cycles at 77,000 pounds of thrust. Analytic teardown is in progress.

Fuel burn has been improved, too, Jones reported. In April, Airbus revised the A380 performance handbook to reflect 0.5-percent lower specific fuel consumption. “We are thus 1.5-percent better than our [Rolls-Royce Trent 900] competitor,” she said.
So far, fleet statistics look good, with zero in-flight shut downs in more than 200,000 flight hours. Dispatch reliability stood at 99.9 percent as of June 30. The GP7200 is in service on 14 A380s today, a number that slated to grow to 19 by December 15 on Emirates airplanes and four operated by Air France.

Jones commented that Kingfisher Airlines and Qatar Airways have not yet chosen the engines for their ordered A380s. She also said Vietnam Airlines is interested in the aircraft, and she hinted that her company’s salesmen are talking to some U.S. operators who may be interested as well. The Engine Alliance claims to have a 59-percent share in A380 ordered engines.

On Monday, Emirates ordered GP7200 engines for the additional 32 A380s it ordered last month. The deal includes a “fleet management agreement” for the maintenance, repair and overhaul of the engines. It is valued at $4.8 billion.
Jones said the Engine Alliance recommends that its customers order 10 to 12 percent of spares. Emirates is said to be “in that neighborhood.” The ratio of 548 engine orders for 128 aircraft indicates, however, that the average customer tends to stay below the advised percentage. The GP7200’s fan can be replaced separately from the rest of the engine, which allows an operator to make the most of its spare inventory, a company official pointed out