Julian Moxon/PARIS Guy Norris/LOS ANGELES


CFM International is in talks with Airbus to try to get its CFM56-5A engine included as a powerplant for the newly launched Airbus Industrie A318. But the European consortium is sticking to its position that it is "offering only the Pratt &Whitney PW6000".

Air France, Lufthansa, Swissair and several North American carriers are known to be interested in the CFM option because it offers commonality with their CFM-powered fleets. Air France, which has ordered 15 A318s with 10 options, says it will choose between the two engines "at the end of June".

CFMI says it can power the A318 with a derated - to 23,000lb thrust (102kN) - version of the engine powering the A320 family range. "It would run extremely cool and offer the lowest cost of maintenance of any engine in its class," says the Snecma/General Electric joint venture.

P&W is undeterred by the threat and says it is committed to developing the PW6000. "We think our engine will do a better job," says the company. "It is designed to be ideally suited to this aircraft and this market. We think it will be superior to any derivative engine."

P&W is to begin the first test runs of the PW6000 in July. The engine has been selected by several A318 customers, including ILFC, TWA and Egyptair, and is tipped to be Air China's choice (Flight International, 28 April-4 May).

The successful launch of the PW6000 is pivotal to P&W's long-term strategy because the same core will also be used as the basis for the geared-fan PW8000, its proposed challenger to the CFM56. The PW8000 will also be P&W's standalone successor to the International Aero Engines V2500.

Perhaps more importantly for the company's development strategy into the 21st century, the geared-fan technology developed for the PW8000 is expected to form the basis for a new family of higher-thrust engines to succeed the PW2000 and PW4000.

CFMI's pricing policy for the A318 is an element of the discussions with Airbus. Sources says that to be competitive, it would have to slash its price "-and they'd have to explain that to Boeing".

Final assembly of the 107-seat A318 will be at DaimlerChrysler Aerospace Airbus' Hamburg plant, where the A319 and A321 are built, with delivery of the first aircraft due in September 2002. A total of 109 orders and commitments for the aircraft have been received.

Source: Flight International