Engine Alliance, the joint venture between engine manufacturers General Electric (GE) and Pratt & Whitney (P&W), claims pole position so far in supplying engines for the giant Airbus A380. The Hartford, Connecticut-based group says it has been selected for 55 percent of A380 engine sales compared to Rolls-Royce’s 45-percent share with its Trent 900.
There are currently 27 GP7200-powered A380s in service, with four more to be delivered by the end of this year, Mary Ellen Jones, Engine Alliance president, reported Monday at a Dubai Air Show press briefing. The main customer for the engine is Dubai-based Emirates Airline, with 17 A380-800s now in service and three more expected to enter service by year-end.
Since the engine entered service, it has experienced only one in-flight shutdown, on an Emirates A380. An Engine Alliance executive attributed that to “an assembly issue, not a design issue. [It was] a quality issue that we corrected.”
Korean Air, another GP7200 engine customer, started service with the A380 in June this year, taking four aircraft in quick succession. The carrier will receive a fifth A380 this month, Jones said. Air France is operating six GP72000-powered A380s. The next engine selection is anticipated from Qatar Airways, which has ordered five A380s.
The GP7200 is certified at 70,000 pounds of thrust on the base A380. Jones said Airbus is adding a 72,000-pound-thrust rating to its catalog, which will enable additional takeoff weight on short runways. According to Engine Alliance, the rating allows for around a 7.5-metric-ton increased takeoff weight on an 8,200-foot runway, translating into an additional 240 nm in range (or more passengers/cargo). “It’s really a software change,” Jones said. “It’s an easy change to make, but it’s one we want to be able to offer our customers on an as-needed basis.”
Engine Alliance has established an initial MRO facility for the GP7200 at the GE overhaul facility in Wales (UK), which also does work on the GE90 engine. Emirates has announced that it will break ground early next year on its own maintenance facility for GP7200 and GE90 work, while Air France-KLM plans to maintain the engine in Paris.
Jones said Engine Alliance has a memorandum of understanding with Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies, part of Mubadala Aerospace, to support GP7200 engines in Abu Dhabi. “We obviously have a large concentration [of engines] in this part of the world between Emirates and Etihad for the time being, so it’s nice to have regional capability located very close to the customer,” she said.