Airbus has indicated that it could respond to the emerging threat of the Bombardier CSeries with a Pratt & Whitney GTF-powered A320 derivative within 24-30 months of deciding on the move.
"P&W thinks it's a great idea and the airplane could take a third engine, but a lot depends on how that engine programme looks," says Airbus chief operating officer customers John Leahy. "But right now, nobody is coming to us saying we'd place an order for 50 A320s if you put a GTF on."
Airbus will evaluate the GTF demonstrator on an A340-600 testbed late this year. "We'll wait and see what the data tells us," says Airbus executive vice-president programmes Tom Williams.
"Putting a new engine on an aircraft is not a trivial exercise. It requires several hundred million dollars of investment, so it's a decision that needs a lot of care and attention," says Williams. He adds that "it would probably take the best part of two to two-and-a-half years" to develop a GTF-powered A320.