PARIS 2009: Engine Alliance bids to extend GP7200 advantage

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Engine Alliance is confident it can maintain or extend the 1% fuel burn advantage it claims for its GP7200 for the Airbus A380, over the rival Rolls-Royce Trent 900, through systematic upgrades over the coming years.

The joint-venture's president, Jim Moravecek, says the engine's performance slightly bettered even the company's own in-house expectations, extending its advantage over the current Trent 900 that powers the A380s on Qantas and Singapore Airlines.

"What surprised us was that we were six-tenths better on thrust specific fuel consumption, which equates to a 1% advantage over the Trent," says Moravecek. "In reality, Rolls is coming in behind on every sales campaign."

During the Paris Air Show, Engine Alliance moved into a market-share lead over its rival - in terms of aircraft units, if not overall operators - when it was selected by Etihad Airways to power its A380s.

Carriers and lessors have ordered 200 firm A380s, 94 of which will have GP7200s while 90 will have Trent 900s. Engines for the remaining 16 - ordered by Qatar Airways, lessor ILFC and Kingfisher Airlines - have yet to be confirmed, while Air Austral will fit GP7200s once it finalises an order for two A380s.

Moravecek is confident the Engine Alliance sales tally on the A380 will eventually nearly quadruple to 1,500 powerplants.

He says he understands that there are possibly plans for Rolls-Royce to introduce a performance improvement package for the Trent in the 2012 timeframe, but Engine Alliance is ready to counter this. "With product improvements we'll get 1-2% improvements over the next few years," he says.

Moravecek adds that Engine Alliance's view of the 20-year large aircraft market is "an average of all the different forecasts" - around 600-700 aircraft. This is about half the Airbus outlook, which forecasts deliveries of 1,283 large passenger aircraft and 415 freighters. Boeing recently adjusted its own forecast down by 25%, from 980 units to 740.