AIRBUS INDUSTRIE SAYS that it could still adopt either a Rolls-Royce or Pratt & Whitney engine to power the proposed stretched A340-600, if an agreement cannot be reached with General Electric in the next six months.

An Airbus exclusivity agreement, signed recently with GE to study jointly the power plant requirement for the A340-600, expires on 17 October. If successful, the US company would become, sole engine supplier, for the new A340 version.

According to Airbus A330/340 product manager Robert Lange, the European consortium "...does not rule out the possibility after this phase that we'll recontact the other manufacturers".

Development of the 20-frame-stretch version of the A340 is "being driven" mainly by the availability of a suitable power plant, say industry sources. The aircraft will have a maximum take-off weight of "at least 330t", requiring a 226kN (51,000lb)-thrust engine with added room for future growth.

"We said it was a great opportunity to all engine manufacturers if you develop an engine in the 50,000lb-class," says Airbus vice-president for strategic planning, Adam Brown. "GE was first to show solid corporate intent," he adds.

Source: Flight International