Second-tier European supplier MTU Aero Engines is pinning its civil manufacturing hopes on the Engine Alliance GP7000 turbofan under development for the Airbus A380 while putting a brave face on 2002's 11% decline in revenues to €2.2 billion ($2.3 billion).

The company insists it managed to draw closer to its goal of becoming an "irreplaceable partner" for the "big three" aero-engine producers General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce, despite enduring a difficult year.

The economic downturn has seen the Munich-based DaimlerChrysler subsidiary succeed in increasing its market share in the crucial maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) sector.

With conflict in Iraq exacerbating airlines' financial woes, MTU chief executive Klaus Steffens warns: "We'll have to go the extra mile to realise our ambitious plans for 2003. What we'll have to do is keep building our market share."

MTU was hit by a 26% slump in revenues from civil engine and spare part-production, to €1.1 billion, but nevertheless managed to increase MRO sales by 7% to €680 million. Revenue from government military contracts - comprising mainly Turbo Union RB199 and Eurojet EJ200 production work for the Panavia Tornado and Eurofighter Typhoon, respectively, plus the MTU/R-R/Turbomeca MTR390 turboshaft for the Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopter - crept up 7%to €680 million.

The manufacturer has landed a 22.5% aggregate stake in the GP7000 through separate agreements with Engine Alliance partners GE and P&W and the commercial fortunes of the powerplant have improved dramatically after its selection by Emirates to power 22 A380s on firm order. "For us, this engine is the paramount commercial programme for the decades ahead," says Steffens.

P&W also selected MTU's HDV 12 high-pressure compressor as part of efforts to rectify performance shortfalls with the PW6000 turbofan for the A318, which has suffered a large number of order cancellations as a result of the engine problems.

MTU aims to double its MRO market share - currently 5.6% - by 2010 after opening additional workshops in Asia and the Americas. The company's German shops and its recently-opened facility in Zhuhai, China, experienced growth in 2002, but its Vancouver unit was hit by slowing demand for P&W JT8D and GE CF6-50 overhauls.

Military MRO revenues are driven primarily by RB199 work carried out in Munich.

Source: Flight International