Rolls To Join Pratt in GTF Development

 - October 17, 2011, 2:30 PM
Rolls-Royce will continue to manufacture V2500 engine parts and participate in its assembly and support, despite its planned divestiture of its share in the IAE joint venture with Pratt & Whitney. (Photo: IAE)

All appears forgiven between Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney now that the two engine manufacturers prepare to collaborate on the next generation of turbofans for midsize airliners ranging in size from 120 to 230 seats. Under a restructuring plan that would see Rolls-Royce sell its stake in IAE to Pratt & Whitney for $1.5 billion, the companies have agreed to collaborate on high-bypass-ratio geared turbofan technology for future propulsion systems, including “advanced” geared engines and open rotor designs. Rolls-Royce has even agreed to make a “modest” investment in the PurePower PW1000G geared turbofan now under development for the Airbus A320neo.

The deal comes barely a year after Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney parent United Technologies 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, following the companies’ agreement to drop their respective suits and Pratt’s wildly successful PW1000G sales campaign, Rolls-Royce has apparently seen the proverbial light. “Today’s announcement charts a clear course for the future of Rolls-Royce in the important midsize aircraft segment,” said Rolls-Royce civil aerospace president Mark King.

Meanwhile, Pratt & Whitney has already recruited one of the other IAE partners–MTU Aero Engines–to take part of Rolls-Royce’s stake in the joint venture. Pratt has also offered the other partner, Japanese Aero Engines Corp. (JAEC), part of Rolls’ share.

The proposed divestiture deal calls for Rolls-Royce to receive an agreed payment for each hour flown by the current installed fleet of IAE V2500-powered aircraft for 15 years from completion of the transaction. Rolls-Royce has agreed to maintain responsibility for the manufacture of high-pressure compressors, fan blades and discs as well as the provision of engineering support and final assembly of 50 percent of IAE’s V2500 engines.

The transactions still stand subject to various closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.