Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) is considering relinquishing its 6% risk-sharing stake in Rolls-Royce's Trent 900 programme, as both companies study whether the potential market for the engine justifies the estimated $450 million development cost. Boeing's decision to shelve its 747-X project earlier this year leaves the Airbus A3XX, which will not enter service until at least 2003, as the only near-term application for the powerplant.

Kensuke Andoh, deputy managing director of KHI's UK operation, confirms that the company is "very anxious" about continuing its participation in the Trent 900, although "...nothing definite has been settled yet. We have the same idea as R-R," he adds.

Senior officials from the Japanese company visited R-R's Derby headquarters in mid February to discuss the future of the Trent 900 programme. Meanwhile, KHI last week postponed plans for several of its engineers to begin work at Derby on standardising production tooling for the engine.

"We do not see which year we will start actual work on the Trent 900," says Andoh.

R-R launched the Trent 900 at the Farnborough Air Show in September, and announced it had formed a full project team to manage the detailed design and development of the engine. Certification was planned for December 1999, to meet the 2000 service-entry date for the now-abandoned Boeing 747-X.

"We said at the time that this was subject to the launch of the aircraft [747-X]," says R-R, which adds that it is now carrying out "low-level work to identify the configuration of the engine". The UK company is the only manufacturer to have signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus to supply an engine for the A3XX.

The General Electric-Pratt & Whitney Engine Alliance said earlier this year that it had "suspended activity leading to certification" of its GP7000 engine, after termination of the 747-X. It is continuing discussions with Airbus over specifying the engine for the A3XX.


Source: Flight International