Rolls gets on the sales power curve

 - June 18, 2007, 11:49 AM

Rolls-Royce is celebrating its biggest ever civil engines order, a $5.6 billion deal for Trent XWBs to power Qatar Airways’ 80 Airbus A350 XWBs, and it is set to announce even more orders for the engine during the show.

US Airways has also committed to the engine for its 22 A350s in a $1.8 million deal. Both contracts include Rolls-Royce’s TotalCare long-term services agreement.

Meanwhile, sources at GE confirm that the company will not offer an engine for the largest of the three A350s, the A350 XWB-1000. They said GE is holding talks with Airbus at the show about offering its GEnx on the two smaller versions, the -800 and -900. “We’re not interested in powering the A350XWB-1000,” said a source. “Not only does the aircraft compete directly with the Boeing 777, which we power, but we believe trying to make one engine work for all three versions isn’t the best solution for Airbus.”

Rolls-Royce, developing a single Trent XWB for all three A350 versions, countered that the airlines do not appear to agree. “Our order book is strengthening almost daily, which would seem to indicate that’s not what the airlines think,” said a company official. Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al-Baker said, “By developing this engine specifically for the A350 XWB, Rolls-Royce will deliver an optimized powerplant with not only the best economics but also new-generation environmental technologies.”

GE reckons its shareholders would not support the multibillion-dollar development costs of an all-new engine for the Airbus, not least because the only other potential application is for stretched versions of the A380, which are unlikely to appear until sometime in the next decade. A source said, “We realize we’re making the situation more complex for Airbus, but we think there are a lot of airlines out there who would be happy to buy the smaller versions with the GEnx.”

Further business for Rolls at the show came in the form of a $180 million order from ILFC for Trent 700s to power its five additional Airbus A330s and from China Eastern for its $260 million share of the order for International Aero Engines V2500s to power 30 A320s. Another $180 million came from the Hainan Airlines V2500 deal and $100 million more from the selection of Trent 1000s by UK low-cost airline Flyglobespan to power its two Boeing 787s.