International Aero Engines (IAE) will begin to consider a “SelectThree” variant of its established V2500 turbofan around the end of 2011 as a potential follow-on to the SelectTwo version unveiled earlier this year and launched by Middle East operator Gulf Air. The powerplant manufacturers making up the group have extended their partnership agreement to 2045 and Asian carrier China Southern has become the largest V2500 customer.
Ian Aitken, president and chief executive of the partnership, which comprises Japanese Aero Engines, MTU Aero Engines, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce, told AIN that he expects to hear from engineers “in six months’ time” about possible further V2500 enhancements. He said IAE investment is not constrained to any particular area of engine operations and that improvements could come in soft- or hardware changes or in, say, maintenance costs. “I’ve said, ‘Tell me what is possible’ and then I’ll see the business case. There are a lot of technologies available from each partner.”
A new V2500 customer, Bahrain-based Gulf Air, has placed the first orders for the SelectTwo version, which will power six Airbus A321s. IAE and Airbus are engaged in a “rigorous” SelectTwo flight-test, validation and certification program to be completed later this year. The upgrade–comprising an electronic engine-control software upgrade and a new data-entry plug, and available as a V2500-5 SelectOne sales order option–is planned for service-entry in 2013.
SelectTwo aims to provide 0.58-percent fuel-burn savings, compared with SelectOne engines, for a 500-nmi A320 mission. IAE said that for a 10-airline fleet making 2,300 flights per aircraft per year, this equates to savings of $43,000 per aircraft per year at current fuel prices and 148 metric tons of carbon dioxide per aircraft per year.
Recent new, or extended, customer agreements include a China Southern order for 65 SelectOne engines to be announced today as the carrier extends its V2500-powered fleet to 177 aircraft–in service or on order–making it the leading V2500 customer. Deliveries of these latest engines, which are covered by a long-term maintenance agreement and are valued at more than $750 million overall, are to begin in May 2012.
Over the past several months, IAE also has reached agreements with Air Leasing, Bank of China, Sichuan, TAM, Vietnam Aircraft Leasing and Vietnam Airlines. After China Southern, the next four leading V2500 users are JetBlue, US Airways, United Airlines and TAM, each with more than 100 IAE-powered aircraft.
The IAE partnership, which was formed in 1983, has agreed a 30-year extension to its collaboration agreement until 2045. There are nearly 6,500 V2500s in service with–or on firm order from–almost 200 customers in more than 70 countries. The engine is available in seven thrust settings, from 22,000 pounds to 33,000 pounds, to power the Airbus A320 family, including the ACJ corporate jet. The V2500 in-service fleet is said to have doubled in the past five years and the engine is claimed to be the third-largest program currently in production.