General Electric is developing a variant of the CF6-80E1 engine to power higher- weight Airbus A330 derivatives, in conjunction with a package to increase performance and life on wing for existing engines.

The engine maker aims to boost its share of the tightly fought A330 market, as well as to cure problems of premature degradation that have begun to crop up in service. The variant, the CF6-80E1A3, will use the three-dimensional aerodynamic design improvements, and "boltless" turbine initially developed for the Boeing 767-400's CF6-80C2B7F/ B8F.

The upgrade is expected to tackle a life cycle problem encountered with the -80E, as well as to provide new thrust growth capacity and, therefore, increased payload/range potential, particularly on the A330-200. Thrust is expected to rise to about 72,000lb (320kN), compared to the E1's baseline 68,240lb.

Airbus says that the new GE engine will be used for the existing high gross weight A330 models, and that development of the -80E1A3 simply makes GE's offering more competitive with the engines already available from Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney.

CF6 project general manager, Roger Seager says the "basic building blocks of the B7F/B8F will provide the basis for a retrofit kit for the 80E, which will be replaceable at the module level. We will retrofit the existing fleet and get it up to the correct life limits." The two year programme should begin at the end of next year, and will raise the life limit to over 15,000 cycles.

The improvements are aimed ultimately at providing A330 operators with three different ratings, from the -80E1A2 to the new A3 and "thrust bump" A4, and will be paid for by GE, says the company. "There was an issue we had with life limits, which we didn't like on the -80E, so we decided that, rather than changing out individual engines at shop visits, we wanted something that would meet our expectations going forward," says Seager.

Source: Flight International