Boeing ready to brief GE, P&W and R-R on requirements, which include 10% lower operating costs than 767-300ER

Battle lines will be drawn between the "big three" engine makers over the proposed Boeing 7E7 on 18 February when the aircraft manufacturer is expected to give General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce the initial set of propulsion system requirements.

Boeing, which declines to confirm the planned briefing, will provide targets for take-off, climb and cruise thrust performance, as well as for fuel consumption, emissions, environmental noise and installed weight. The briefing will detail the schedule, culminating with entry-into-service in 2008. Targets include 17% better fuel consumption/seat and 10% lower operating costs than those of the 767-300ER, and a gross weight lighter than the Airbus A330. As much as 80% of performance improvements are expected to come from the engines.

GE is widely expected to seek exclusivity, while P&W and R-R see Boeing eventually downselecting to two suppliers. The likely 60,000-65,000lb-thrust (267-290kN) range also provides them with a chance to revamp radically their engine families with next-generation successors to the CF6, PW4000 and a follow-on to the Trent, respectively.

Like P&W and R-R, GE is redirecting its earlier engine studies for the now abandoned Sonic Cruiser at the 7E7. Based on its Gen X study, it says the 7E7 proposal will be "a scaled core of the GE90" and will feature other advanced technology already under development.

P&W is expected to bring its hard-earned PW6000 compressor experience to the 7E7 project, although it indicates that the current entry-into-service date may be too soon to introduce its long-anticipated geared-fan concept on a large-scale engine.

"We do believe Boeing is going to do the programme and we are going to be there," says P&W commercial engine president Bob Leduc. "It's that simple and come hell or high water we're going to win."

R-R is focusing its 7E7 efforts on matching lowest cash operating cost targets with a raft of technology already planned for the European Affordable Near Term Low Emissions research programme. The company's chief design engineer Geoff Kirk says the outline architecture for the new three-shaft design should be completed by mid-2003.

"We've been working on Vision 10 engines for various sorts of applications, including the Sonic Cruiser. Now we've moved the focus to the 7E7," he says.

Source: Flight International