IAE’s president says meeting demand for the A320 powerplant is today more important than finding its heir

International Aero Engines president Mark King had been in his job for just over six months when he created headlines at the 2004 Farnborough air show by confirming the multinational consortium was “preparing to move to the next generation” of engine.

IAE Mark King W445

King: Presiding over busiest period in IAE's history

The manufacturer had set its sights on powering Bombardier’s proposed CSeries airliner, and saw it as a possible stepping stone towards the much bigger target of the next-generation Airbus and Boeing single-aisle twins.

At the time King, executive vice president for airlines at Rolls-Royce before taking on his IAE role, said “our shareholders are supporting the V2500 as our route to market. We see it as a very positive development towards the next generation of V2500 family.”

Now, well into the second year of his reign and with the CSeries on ice, King’s priorities have more to do with fulfilling demand for the current generation of V2500s than taking on more uncertain futuristic projects. Although IAE remains the “route to market” for the next-generation requirement, his time is now almost totally absorbed in meeting and satisfying the apparently insatiable market demand for the present products.

With the growing orderbook, the value of IAE to its shareholders has also helped squash uncertainty that loomed over the next-generation issue. “I guess there was a time when I felt a bit insecure, and now I feel secure,” says King, who adds with a smile: “this is going to be a 5,000-engine programme”.

Having been appointed to lead the multinational engine maker in January 2004, King is in the satisfying position of presiding over the busiest period in the company’s history.

“We’re experiencing relentless growth and delivered an engine a day in 2005. Quite simply, we’re delivering more engines than ever before, and selling more engines than ever before.”

Buoyed by the ongoing surge in A320 family sales, and with deliveries due to go through the 2,600 barrier in 2006, the prospects for even further record breaking look good. “We’re expecting orders for over 300 engines this year, and deliveries are likely to be around 350 or so in 2006, and there’s no sign of it stopping at the moment,” says King.

All told, IAE has now taken close to $36 billion worth of orders, and claims 57% of the A320 market over a rolling five-year period, including 65% of the low-cost carrier market. “We have 127 customers now and we’re growing rapidly. Our customer base went up 10% last year and in Europe, for example, we added nine new customers in 2005,” he says, adding that more than 600 engines were sold last year alone.

Final assembly of engines, which is divided between the two largest shareholders, Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney, is also undergoing a revamp as the European line moves from the UK to Dahlewitz in Germany. “We’re building the first one in Germany as we speak, and slowly ramping down at Derby as we build up at Dahlewitz,” says King, who adds the transition is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

The reorganisation does not affect the workshare of the partnersip which was originally founded in 1983. Each IAE partner continues to contribute individual modules to the V2500 engine. P&W produces the combustor and high-pressure (HP) turbine, R-R the HP compressor, Japanese Aero Engines the fan and low-pressure (LP) compressor and MTU the LP turbine. Before being passed on to the respective UK or US production lines, various compressor assemblies are put together by R-R, while the turbines are assembled by P&W.

Meanwhile, a massive effort is focused on bolstering the long-term sustainability and residual asset value of the current engine family through the V2500Select initiative. Split into two main parts, V2500Select includes a package of upgrades as well as a selection of maintenance options that can be tailored to specific operator requirements.

The upgrades, which will be rolled into production engines and made available for retrofit from 2008, include high- and low-pressure turbine improvements, an upgraded compressor, a new variable stator vane system and new engine control software.

New engines off the line in 2008 will be expected to have up to 1% lower fuel burn and 20% longer time on wing. Taken as a whole, the V2500Select package is calculated to cut operating costs by as much as 25%.

The initiative was launched in 2005 by Indian carrier IndiGo, and has since been taken up by Adria Airways, Mexicana and Jetstar Airways. “This means whatever you get back in 10 to 15 years is better than whatever you started with – it is also provides an incentive to operators to put in upgrades that can help fuel burn and reliability.”

So far “we have just under 1,000 engines with Select and our objective is that the product should be compelling – so that we get at least 50% under some sort of agreement. We couldn’t have wanted a better reaction than we’ve had so far,” says King.


Source: Flight International