Karen Walker

Core engine testing of the GP7200 engine, a General Electric/Pratt & Whitney joint venture proposal to power the Airbus A3XX, is set to begin next week.

The core has been mounted on a test rig at GE's Cincinnati, Ohio, site in readiness for the tests, which will validate operability right up to stall and provide performance characteristics' data.

Lloyd Thompson, the recently-appointed president of the GE/P&W Alliance joint company, says final engine design is on track for May 2001. Between now and then the Alliance will evaluate and validate a number of new technologies, including twin annular pre-swirl (TAPS) technology borrowed from the CFM International's TECH56 programme.

In 2001, the Alliance team will make a decision on which new technologies should be incorporated into the final design. "The focus will be on using those technologies that drive down the cost for the customer," says Thompson.

Key issues will be improved engine performance retention, better fuel burn and reduced emissions. The company claims that the engine's fuel burn advantage over a Boeing 747-400 will save an airline some $4.4 million per aircraft over 20,000h.

While the Alliance is clearly concentrating on having an engine ready for a 2005 in-service date of the A3XX, which may be launched later this year, it is also targeting a growth version of the 747, should Boeing decide to launch such an aircraft. That engine, the GP7100, could also be ready for a 2005 in-service date, says Thompson.

Alliance is creating a dedicated team that would provide customer support for these engines and ensure seamless service. Thompson says there already exists a high level of integration within the fledgling joint venture.

"Our board meetings run very quickly these days," he says. "There is a high level of motivation on both sides to work together because we know it is in the best interests of both companies. We think we will provide the best engine for these very large aircraft."

Source: Flight Daily News