Airbus Industrie, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce are locked in a three-way stand-off over the way forward on the growth A340-500 and -600.

P&W and R-R are seeking exclusivity on the new variants, while Airbus does not want to offer it.The engine makers expect a final decision by Airbus by the time of the Paris air show.

The two powerplants on offer, P&W's PW4557 and R-R's Trent 500, are closely matched on paper, although, according to Airbus, the Trent engine offers better specific fuel consumption.

Industry sources say that the Trent is favoured on political grounds. The P&W engine, however, is seen as a less risky development, and is lighter, thereby offsetting some of the Trent's fuel-consumption advantage.

Pratt & Whitney declines to comment on the impasse, but confirm that Bob Leduc, senior vice-president for commercial engines, travelled to France on 2 June to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to offer the engine, although it remains adamant on its policy of "no exclusivity, no deal". R-R has already signed an MoU.

Source: Flight International