Daimler-Benz Aerospace (Dasa) aero-engine unit MTU Munich hopes to set up a European military-engines company around its international partnership with France, Italy and Spain to develop the M138.

The M138 is a turboprop derivative of Snecma's 50-105kN (11,250-23,600lb)-thrust M88 turbofan, which powers the Dassault Rafale Ìghter. The new engine is being developed by FiatAvio, MTU, Snecma and Spanish manufacturer Industria de Turbo Propulsores, which joined in June. The engine is intended as a potential powerplant for the Future Large Aircraft.

MTU president and chief executive Rainer Hertrich says that the M138 team is poised to establish an "independent corporate entity" to run the programme.

Hertrich says that he believes the partnership could provide a model for a joint European military propulsion-systems integrator, to manage the powerplant for a next-generation European fighter.

Once established, the system integrator's parent companies would become its subcontractors, selling their products to the new company and leaving it to handle the sales and marketing aspects of the business.

The M138 is based on the M88 high-pressure core, incorporating technology developed by MTU and FiatAvio for the Eurojet EJ200 engine and the Pratt & Whitney Advanced Ducted Propulsor demonstrator in the low-pressure compressor and turbine. FiatAvio also contributes gearbox technology to the engine.

MTU and Snecma have also entered a partnership to develop engine technology, aiming to cut fuel consumption by 20% within 20 years. Hertrich says that the programme will focus on heat-exchanger and intercooler technology, and is separate from the German Government-backed Engine 3E research programme, which involves BMW Rolls-Royce and MTU and has similar aims.

Hertrich says that MTU is planning to expand its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) role "-to become the world's largest independent MRO company".

Earlier this month it won a contract with freight carrier FedEx, handing maintenance responsibility for the US airline's entire General Electric CF6-50 and CF6-80 inventory to MTU's Langenhagen site. The contract is worth DM500 million ($290 million) over the next four years, says Hertrich.

MTU is in talks with Pratt & Whitney Canada and Snecma over involvement in their jointly developed SPW14 turbofan, designed for 58- to 90-seat regional aircraft. Snecma says that the team could be interested in MTU's low-pressure turbine expertise.

Source: Flight International