Market for re-engining the twinjet is being studied by Rolls-Royce and Boeing

Rolls-Royce and Boeing are jointly studying the viability of setting up a programme for re-engining the MD-80 twinjet with the BR715 powerplant.

R-R says that the study has involved Boeing offices in Long Beach and Seattle and its Airplane Services (BAS) arm. It is based around the adoption of the BR715 engine installation hardware from the 717-200.

This 100-seater shares the same McDonnell Douglas DC-9 lineage as the larger, Pratt &Whitney JT8D-200-powered MD-80 family. Although the MD-80 meets the latest Stage 3/Chapter 3 noise regulations, it is only marginally compliant. It would need modifications to meet the more stringent regulations that are expected to be introduced in the future.

According to Ken Lilley, R-R head of marketing for small engines, the BR715 would be offered at its full 21,000lb thrust (93.5kN) rating for the MD-80, making it suitable for the lower weight variants (ie not the high gross weightMD-83). According to R-R there are 800 suitable aircraft of which 350 are the intermediate weight MD-82 model, considered the most viable candidate for the programme.

"The modification would provide a cumulative noise reduction of 10db, and up to 20% reduction in fuel consumption depending on the mission," says Lilley. The quieter BR715 would, therefore, bring the MD-80 well within the planned Chapter 4 noise limits. It would also provide the aircraft with superior climb performance, Lilley adds.

The viability study with Boeing is expected to be concluded by the end of the year, says Lilley, who claims it is likely that the project would come within the remit of Boeing's Wichita-based BAS division. However, BAS is currently less enthused about the project, saying: "We did an internal study on re-engining the MD-80 with the BR715, but there didn't seem to be a market so we walked away."

Talks are already underway with MD-80 operators, says Lilley, who adds that if the go ahead is given, and a launch customer found, the conversion could be certificated and in service in 24-30 months.

P&W, meanwhile, is believed to be keen to retain its grasp on the huge installed fleet of MD-80s, and has begun development of a Chapter 4 hushkit for delivery by early 2006. A re-engining programme utilising the PW6000 has also been studied, but is believed to be unlikely.

Source: Flight International