Rolls-Royce comes second again as fast-expanding airline announces supplier for follow-on order for 23 A380s

The General Electric/Pratt & Whitney Engine Alliance last week looked set to beat Rolls-Royce to the massive Emirates follow-on order for 23 Airbus A380s, 21 of which are being purchased and two of which will be leased.

The win, due to be confirmed at this week's Dubai air show, is expected to be worth around $1.5 billion and will propel the Alliance well into the lead ahead of R-R, which is initial engine supplier for the A380. Flight tests of the Trent 900-powered aircraft are due to begin early in 2005. The Engine Alliance, including the latest Emirates deal, is expected to hold firm orders for 268 engines, plus spares and options, against an estimated 196 engines, plus spares, for the Trent 900. Engine competitions are under way for five A380s ordered by Korean Air, as well as for expected orders due to be firmed up by Malaysia Airlines and Qatar.

Air France, Emirates, FedEx Express and International Lease Finance (ILFC) have between them now ordered 68 GP7270/77-powered A380-800 and -800F versions. R-R Trent 900 customers include Lufthansa, Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. Including ILFC, which is believed to have six Trent 900-powered A380s on order, the R-R-powered A380 firm-order tally numbers 49 aircraft.

Emirates threw open the contest to power the follow-on batch to include the competing Trent 900, although it earlier selected the GP7200 for its initial batch of 22 A380s. Despite being the incumbent, the Engine Alliance is believed to have never considered the Emirates contest a "slam dunk", particularly since R-R was expected to leverage its position as supplier of engines for the airline's growing A340-500/600 fleet.

MTU, a major supplier for the GP7200, meanwhile delivered the first six-stage, low-pressure turbine to P&W on 3 December. The delivery followed the handover in October of the first GP7200 turbine centre frame to GE. The first complete GP7200 engine is scheduled to make its initial test run around mid-February and will enter service on the first Emirates aircraft in September 2006.

General Electric is combining GE Aircraft Engines (GEAE) and locomotive manufacturing business GE Transportation Systems to form GE Transportation. The combined unit will be headed by GEAE president Dave Calhoun. The move is expected to save money through the consolidation of staff functions. GEAE employs 26,000 people and the rail business has 8,000 employees.

Source: Flight International