ILA: IAE partner talks over A320 NEO proposal under strain

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The cracks began to deepen yesterday in the public facade built by the International Aero Engines partners that they are confident in finding a solution to their disagreements over the best architecture for a revamped Airbus A320 powerplant.

MTU Aero Engines chief executive Egon Behle complains that negotiations between the consortium members have "not become any easier" with "Rolls-Royce in particular throwing up a number of question marks".

Pratt & Whitney - joint largest IAE shareholder alongside R-R - is aggressively pushing its geared-turbofan architecture for the A320 "new engine option [NEO]" project, but the UK manufacturer insists it has the technology to meet Airbus's performance targets without the need for a geared fan.

"The fact that Airbus is openly saying they see a lot of attraction in the GTF is not good news for Rolls-Royce," says Behle, who adds that R-R believes there are some risks. "But we are still working on this and I don't want to give up on IAE as a successful co-operation. We all together want to go forward within IAE," he adds.

MTU is a major partner on P&W's PW1000G GTF project - already selected to power the Bombardier CSeries and Mitsubishi MRJ regional jet - and recently delivered the first low-pressure turbine module for the engine.

R-R Deutschland chief executive Michael Haidinger insists that the partners will "continue to talk, and explore all possibilities to find an IAE solution. We have a technical debate, and a common understanding that Rolls-Royce and General Electric can do the same job as the GTF from a performance point of view."

He adds: "Rolls-Royce has the technology ready to provide the efficiencies, and we are talking to everybody in IAE to promote our technical capabilities."

P&W said earlier this year that it stands ready to break away from its current partners in the IAE consortium and offer its GTF to Airbus if it fails to reach consensus.

Japanese Aero Engine is the fourth member of IAE, which supplies its V2500 turbofan for Airbus narrowbodies as a competitor to the CFM International CFM56.

P&W president David Hess said earlier this year: "We continue to look for every creative solution possible to continue to go forward with IAE, but right now we're not waiting. We're offering our engine to Airbus and Boeing as Pratt & Whitney."