Japanese trading house Marubeni is taking a 14.5% risk and revenue stake in the Rolls-Royce (R-R) Trent 900 programme for an undisclosed sum.

The engine is being developed to power the Airbus A380 ultra-large aircraft in competition with the General Electric/Pratt & Whitney Engine Alliance GP7200. The R-R powerplant will be the lead certification engine for the A380, due to enter service with Singapore Airlines in the first quarter of 2006.

Marubeni is subcontracting production of the combustor to Samsung Techwin of South Korea, while Japan's Ishikawajima-harima Heavy Industries (IHI) will supply low-pressure turbine blades.

Marubeni's decision to invest in the Trent 900 is a major boost for R-R after IHI opted not to take up an offer of a 5-10% risk-sharing stake in the Trent 900.

Already full partners in the Trent 900 are FiatAvio, Goodrich, Hamilton-Sundstrand, Honeywell and Volvo Aero.

Marubeni has 10% of the Trent 500 - the powerplant for the A340-500/600 - as a risk-sharing partner, and has substantial non-risk participation in the larger Trent 700 and 800 models, offered for the A330 and the low- and medium-gross weight Boeing 777s respectively.

Marubeni Aerospace Division general manager Gentaro Toya says his company is confident Airbus will sell A380s to Japanese airlines. "JAL is the number one user of 747s in the world," says Toya. "That means JAL should be a good candidate for the A380."

Source: Flight International