Andrew Doyle/MUNICH Julian Moxon/PARIS

Rolls-Royce, the Turboprop International (TPI) consortium partners and Belgium's Techspace Aero have signed a memorandum of agreement to submit a joint powerplant proposal for the Airbus Military Company (AMC) A400M.

Technical and commercial details of the merged proposal are still being finalised, but the bid must be submitted by 15 September to meet AMC's deadline. A joint venture company will be set up to act as "a single point of contact with customers", says R-R.

Earlier attempts by R-R and TPI leader Snecma to thrash out an agreement based on a two-shaft engine failed, but the recent decision to switch focus to a three-shaft design (Flight International, 11- 17 July) enabled a compromise to be reached, say sources familiar with the talks. TPI also includes Germany's MTU, FiatAvio of Italy and Spain's ITP.

Key to the new agreement is the allocation of equal workshares in the project to R-R, Snecma and MTU of around 25% each, with Fiat and ITP picking up the rest.

Though the UK's planned buy of 25 A400Ms theoretically entitles R-R to only around 13% of the engine work, this will be topped up by awarding a minority share of Germany's entitlement to its wholly-owned subsidiary R-R Deutschland, say the sources.

The new powerplant will be based on the core of Snecma's M88 fighter engine and there is provisional agreement that R-R will be responsible for the intermediate-pressure compressor "and other mechanical parts". MTU is likely to supply the intermediate and low-pressure turbines while Fiat will get the propeller transmission and gearbox.

The sources say the overall development costs of the three-shaft engine are still being calculated, but are likely to be comparable to those predicted for each of the two separate bids already presented. These are a two-shaft BR700-based bid from R-R and an M88-based equivalent from TPI.

The three-shaft proposal is seen as offering better growth potential and would eliminate the perceived technical risks associated with R-R's proposal to achieve unprecedentedly high pressure ratios in the compressor of the BR700-TP, say the sources.

AMC says the separate bids from R-R and TPI remain valid and the new engine will be evaluated alongside these before a final selection is made. Political pressure being applied by the A400Mcustomer nations, however, means the joint proposal will almost certainly be favoured.

Germany has announced that it intends to buy 73 A400Ms, while France wants 50, Spain 27, Turkey 26, the UK 25, Italy 16, Belgium seven and Luxembourg one, making a total of 225.

The aircraft programme is to be formally launched early next year after customer contracts have been finalised. AMC says it will fly the first aircraft 51 months after the contract is signed with initial deliveries to the UK 20 months later.

Source: Flight International