IAE booming, but future over long term questioned
International Aero Engines has logged orders for $1.4 billion worth of V2500 engines at Farnborough. With more than 5,000 powerplants in service or on order, the company’s long-term future would seem to look secure.
But how secure? At the show it emerged that its two biggest partners, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce, have committed to fundamentally different approaches to powering the next generation of 150 to 250-seat aircraft to replace the hugely successful Airbus A320 and Boeing 737. IAE’s V2500 powers only the A320, claiming more than 50 percent of the market for the aircraft.
Previously, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls agreed that IAE represented the “route to market” for a future engine. And yet Pratt & Whitney opted for the PurePower geared turbofan for all its future large commercial engines, an approach ruled out categorically by Rolls-Royce. “Gears are the answer to every big engine,” said Pratt & Whitney president Steve Finger.
Meanwhile, “[Rolls-Royce believes] a two or three-shaft direct- drive turbofan can perform as well as the GTF and will be lighter and more reliable,” Rolls-Royce’s engineering and technology director Colin Smith told Aviation International News.
“We’ve all got our approach to the technology,” added Finger. “We’re optimistic that when the marketplace emerges we’ll have the best solution.”
He pointed to Pratt & Whitney’s ever-closer relationship with IAE partner MTU, which has involved itself in all of Pratt & Whitney’s major commercial engine programs and is developing the high-pressure compressor for the geared turbofans that will power the Mitsubishi and Bombardier regional jets. “Any future partner must have unique capabilities to augment what we have,” said Finger.
Behind the scenes, the two companies say negotiations continue. “We’re having discussions about how to go forward,” said Pratt & Whitney commercial engines president Todd Kallman. A Rolls-Royce spokesman said much the same. “We’re talking about it,” he told AIN. Clearly caught in the middle, an IAE source commented, “We don’t know what’s happening.”
Meanwhile, IAE’s orderbook grew larger as the partnership announced orders from Aviation Capital Group (ACG), Shenzhen Airlines and Shanghai Airlines at the show.
ACG has selected the new V2500 SelectOne for six Airbus A319s, 15 A320s and four A321s in a deal worth more than $400 million. Shenzhen Airlines also chose the engine to power 28 Airbus A320 family aircraft, and has also signed a long-term V2500Select agreement with IAE. The combined deal is worth $812 million.
Meanwhile, Shanghai Airlines opted for the V2500-A5 to power 10 Airbus A321s in a deal worth $170 million. The first aircraft will be delivered in July 2009, said IAE. The engine manufacturer also announced that Vietnam Airlines has chosen V2500Selects for seven additional A321s it is leasing from ILFC and AerCap.
The V2500Select build standard gained certification in December last year and is due to enter service in September with Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo. According to IAE the improvements will lower fuel burn by 1 percent and increase time-on-wing by 20 percent.