Rolls-Royce has secured an exclusive position on the Airbus A350-900 for the remainder of the decade, ruling out any immediate prospect of a rival engine manufacturer entering the market for twinjet.
The agreement means the Trent XWB will remain the sole powerplant on the A350 until at least 2030.
Rolls-Royce chief executive Warren East, speaking during a full-year briefing on 11 March, said there had been a “huge amount of speculation” about a year ago centred on whether General Electric might offer an engine for the A350.
“We’re delighted to put that speculation to bed for the remainder of this decade,” he says.
Airbus had previously played down any suggestion of a new engine option for the A350, stating that it often held talks with powerplant manufacturers on potential developments but that there were no plans to offer an alternative to the Trent XWB.
East points out that, by the time the exclusivity agreement expires, engine technology will have evolved to a new stage.
Rolls-Royce is working on the UltraFan high-bypass engine which is progressing towards final assembly this year, and East says the 2030 date for the A350 agreement “coincides” with the timing of UltraFan and other future developments.
“We’re gearing up for [UltraFan] demonstration early next year,” says East.
Airbus states that the A350-900 has landed 745 orders compared with 168 for the larger A350-1000, which is also exclusively powered by the Trent XWB.
Rolls-Royce revealed last year that it had found evidence of premature wear on Trent XWB compressor blades in high-cycle engines, at a time when it was still trying to complete remedial work on a blade-durability issue on the Trent 1000 for the Boeing 787.
But the manufacturer states that it has managed to avoid grounding of any A350s, adding that “early identification and action” over the situation meant it did not have to provide for any material additional costs last year.