Rolls-Royce is moving closer to clinching its long-awaited deal with Airbus over offering the Trent 1000 engine on the A350, with the two parties tipped to agree terms on a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in October.

Meanwhile, Airbus claims to have secured provisional launch-investment commitments for the A350 from four EU states, including the UK, which will be the first to confirm its participation at the aircraft’s industrial launch in October.

In another development, Qatar Airways has confirmed its order for 60 aircraft and has signed an MoU with General Electric that formally launches the second major variant of the company’s GEnx engine.

The deal with Qatar and GE takes total A350 commitments to around 130, approaching the 150 mark believed to be the cut-off limit for the US engine maker’s “preferred supplier” agreement with Airbus. Although falling short of a traditional exclusive agreement, the deal strongly favours GE, which is contributing funds to the A350 development effort.

The upcoming engine agreement with R-R means the UK engine maker will then assume some of GE’s financial commitment to development of the aircraft.


R-R declines to comment on the timing of the MoU, but hints an agreement is expected shortly. “We’re in close discussions with Airbus, and those are now in an advanced stage,” it says. “We hope to announce something soon.”

The GE-Qatar MoU, covering business valued at around $1.6 billion, specifically launches the GEnx-72A1 engine for the A350-800 and the more powerful, 75,000lb thrust-class (334kN) -75A1 variant for the -900.

The first Airbus GEnx-72A1 engine will make its first run in the third quarter of 2007, and will begin flight tests on the company’s 747 flying testbed in the second quarter of 2008.

The Trent 1000 is due to enter service with 787 launch customer All Nippon Airways in mid-2008, and could be in service on the A350 by early 2011.


Source: Flight International