To the Aviation Club in London yesterday to hear Rolls-Royce's president of civil aerospace Mark King. Unfortunately King wasn't doing one-to-one interviews and didn't really answer my questions from the floor about progress on the next-generation of the Trent 1000 for the 787, or about Emirates' Tim Clark's concerns that building a new core for the 97,000lb-thrust Trent XWB for the A350-1000, in service from 2017, would destroy the communality of the Trent family.
However, he did have plenty of other interesting stuff to say. Significantly, the UK engine maker has decided against coming up with an offering for the Airbus A320Neo or Boeing 737 Max, prefering to wait for all-new aircraft from the big two to come up with an all-new engine. In the light of the seeming success of the Neo and Max so far, that might seem to have been the wrong call. However, Rolls' solid position on the A350 and 787 means the production lines at Derby will be far from idle over the next decade.
He also refuted suggestions that the IAE V2500 that powers about half A320 family aircraft and in which R-R is a programme partner is "dead technology". IAE, the consortium King used to head, was producing 400 engines a year and would continue to do so until 2018. "The engine is alive and kicking and so is IAE."
King believes it will be the "middle of the next decade" before an open-rotor engine - R'R's favoured next-gen technology - enters service. Work on the project continues. "We have a solution to the noise. It remains an option and if the industry is serious about making a step change in performance, then this is the step we will take."
R-R has long shown a reluctance to engage with the media, a policy encouraged by former chief executive Sir John Rose, who did not have much time for the press generally. R-R's famed media-shyness came to a head with the company's reaction to the potentially catastrophic engine failure on the Qantas Airbus A380 last November, a sequence of events which King spoke about at length.
It was wrong to accuse Rolls's refusal to respond to media inquiries about its own investigation into the incident as "a sign of arrogance or evasiveness", he said. "We're a company of engineers with rigorous standards of quality and attention to detail. We were clear that we would only communicate publically when we could be absolutely certain of our facts; that we understood the event and had identified a rectification programme. This is an important principle that we have resolutely maintained, but one which is hard to sustain in the face of what has become an insatiable demand for material to fill the world's rolling 24h news channels and web sites."