Airbus Industrie is working to conclude agreements with the General Electric-Pratt & Whitney Engine Alliance and Rolls-Royce, so it can formally offer airlines a choice of power plants for its planned A3XX ultra-high-capacity airliner.

The engine manufacturers are expected soon to sign memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with Airbus, followed by more defined agreements within "a few months." These will cover projected engine thrust, weights and pricing.

"They are trying to get it done immediately," says GE-P&W Engine Alliance president Larry Scott. "If Airbus is to make a viable offer to the airlines, they need an MoU soon," he adds. The MoUs are required to enable Airbus to share proprietary information with the engine manufacturers.

Airbus has told prospective A3XX buyers that it will present detailed proposals on specifications, including performance and cost, by the end of the year, following its decision to accelerate the aircraft's development programme (Flight International, 25 September-1 October). As a result, several major carriers, including Cathay Pacific Airways and Singapore Airlines, have decided not to commit themselves to the rival Boeing 747-500/600X until they receive the A3XX proposals.

The GE-P&W Engine Alliance is proposing a marginally more powerful, 345kN (77,000lb)-thrust version of its new GP7000 family for the A3XX. The GP7277 will have the same static thrust as the 747X's GP7176 power plant, but requires a "-little bit more climb thrust. It's a question of fine-tuning the engine to the aircraft," explains Scott. R-R is expected to offer a similarly sized variant of its Trent 900 for the A3XX.

Alliance partners GE and P&W, meanwhile, continue to hold preliminary talks on a bilateral basis with other potential partners.

"Both GE and P&W are talking to existing partners as to what is potentially available," says Scott. He adds, however, that neither company will be able to finalise any new partnership agreements until the GP7000's configuration is defined towards end of the year.

Source: Flight International