International Aero Engines (IAE) is studying options on longer-term potential developments of the V2500 engine to power a new generation of aircraft to replace the Airbus Industrie A320 and Boeing 737 families. The move comes after the Pratt & Whitney/Rolls-Royce-led consortium dropped its initial "-A7" growth plans.

Despite failing to develop a strong enough business case to grow the V2500 for hot-and-high performance on the heavier, longer-range Airbus A321-200, (Flight International, 10-16 November), the engine consortium says customer and partner interest in the new product development strategy remains high.

"When we kicked off the -A7, the enthusiasm for investment was very impressive," says IAE president Mike Terrett. This enthusiasm remains, he adds, and he says that the studies are "more generic", becoming fixed on a longer-term successor.

"We are considering configuration options that take it beyond the 10-year horizon," says Terrett. "We are positioning ourselves to be ready to go beyond the current A320 family and its competition." Refanning, with a scaled swept fan, based on the Trent 500 design, is among options included in the study. "Increasing the diameter of the fan is an option," says Terrett. "It is a question of timing and market needs."

Meanwhile, production of the current models continues to reach record highs as IAE matches the growth in A320 family production. Engine deliveries will exceed 200 units in 1999 and are expected to reach almost 300 a year by 2001 despite the drop-off in Boeing MD-90 deliveries as production of the aircraft ceases within two months.

New engine orders, which have fallen back from 1998's record tally of 444 to just over 270 in 1999, are expected to be "pretty similar" in 2000, says Terrett, who adds that the stronger-than-expected recovery of the Asian economies is fuelling new optimism. Overall, IAE has delivered more than 1,200 engines and has an order backlog of about 3,000.

Source: Flight International