International Aero Engines (IAE) is eyeing military applications for its V2500 turbofan, which currently powers Airbus narrowbodies, and says it intends to continue upgrading the powerplant for the commercial market.
Speaking to ATI and Flightglobal on the sidelines of the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT) conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, IAE president and CEO Ian Aitken said the consortium - comprising Japanese Aero Engines, MTU, Pratt & Whitney (P&W) and Rolls-Royce - is "looking at other things, including military applications. We're not there yet, but we're looking."
Aitken does not specify what military types IAE may target. However, marketing materials for Embraer's KC-390 tanker/transport programme have depicted the aircraft powered by engines resembling the V2500 and the CFM International CFM56.
Irrespective of the possible move into military applications, IAE fully intends to "keep upgrading the engine as we go", says Aitken, noting that the manufacturer recently unveiled a new version of the V2500 designated SelectTwo, which includes a software upgrade for the electronic engine control and a new data entry plug.
IAE has targeted its SelectTwo engine improvements for the A320s that will roll off the line with sharklets around the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013. The A320 with the SelectTwo engine upgrade and sharklets will be "distinctively improved than [the A320s] today. It will be a distinct step in the Airbus family that we will be part of," notes IAE executive vice president, customer business James Guiliano.
IAE believes the A321 with sharklets and SelectTwo will prove "very attractive" in the Boeing 757 replacement market. Existing operators, meanwhile, can upgrade current V2500 engines with a SelectTwo modification on wing.
IAE is also working to thrash out a plan for a further upgrade for the V2500, dubbed SelectThree. "We don't have a roadmap [for SelectThree] mapped out now but we're working on it," says Aitkin.
IAE is not playing a role on the A320neo after members failed to reach consensus on offering the P&W PW1100G to Airbus through IAE. Aitken notes that the shareholders "had different approaches to the marketplace", but he says IAE still sees "a large market for the existing A320, which will sit alongside the A320neo".
Indeed, Airbus vice president of marketing Andrew Shankland yesterday told ISTAT delegates that the airframer thinks it's "quite possible, as a function of customer demand, that we'll continue to build the current standard aircraft for a long time to come, in other words after we have been delivering neos".
The consortium recently agreed to extend their partnerships to 2045, a move that underscores that IAE is "still growing, still investing and still improving" the V2500, says Aitkin.
IAE will undoubtedly "look very different" in 2045 than it does today, he says. Will it offer a new next generation engine to the market in the future? Aitkin says: "The opportunity is there if they wish to at a later date to put another engine through IAE." However a decision has not yet been taken.