LHT in OEM talks on GE9X and Trent XWB support

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Lufthansa Technik is discussing with General Electric and Rolls-Royce how it will set up engine MRO operations for the parent carrier’s future Boeing 777X and Airbus A350 fleets.

Last September, Lufthansa firmly ordered 34 777-9X widebodies and 25 A350-900s, which are to be delivered from 2020 and 2016, respectively. While the next 777 generation will be exclusively powered by General Electric GE9X engines, Rolls-Royce’s Trent XWB is the sole engine available for the A350.

LHT is planning to build up “comprehensive MRO services” for the two types for both the parent airline and third-party customers, chief executive August Wilhelm Henningsen said during a results briefing in Hamburg on 18 March.

While talks have begun with GE about a “far-reaching partnership” to overhaul GE9X engines, he says that a “comprehensive co-operation” will be established with Rolls-Royce.

The UK manufacturer and LHT have a joint venture engine shop, N3 Overhaul Services, near Erfurt in Germany, which supports Trent 500, 700 and 900 powerplants.

The partners are evaluating whether to introduce the Trent XWB to the facility. However, no decision has yet been made, says Henningsen. A central question is whether N3 is large enough to accommodate the expected work volume for Trent XWB support. The greenfield facility is utilising about half its capacity of about 200 engines a year, N3 said in December 2013. By that time, the site’s initial workforce of 270 employees – operations began in 2007 – had more than doubled to 600 staff members. N3 delivered its 500th engine that same month.

LHT and Air France Industries co-operate for A380 and Embraer E-Jet component support through their Spairliners joint venture. However, Henningsen says LHT is having “no concrete discussions” with Air France-KLM about a partnership for Trent XWB support “at this time”.

Air France-KLM signed for us to 50 A350s in September 2011, and the airline group said in June 2013 that it intended to “work with Rolls-Royce... in a strong relationship” to service the Trent XWB engines.