General Electric-Pratt & Whitney Engine Alliance was expecting a request from Airbus to use the GP7000 engine on a proposed growth A330-300 as Flight International closed for press.
Airbus opened "informal talks" with the Engine Alliance at the Farnborough show following news that Boeing had officially requested studies of the engine for its 767-400ERX development.
Boeing's move potentially clears the way for Airbus to use the engine by effectively challenging the original European Commission ruling on the formation of the Alliance. This restricts applications of the new engine to quadjet designs such as the 747X and A3XX. The EC ruling would have to be lifted to allow its use on the 767 and A330.
Engine Alliance president Lloyd Thompson says: "We have notified the EU and US Federal Trade Commission. We are working on the commercial agreement and we expect the authorities to ask questions. There will be a review by both authorities but we expect the outcome to be favourable."
Thompson says that, as of 27 July, "no official requirement has been received from Airbus". However, the presidents of Engine Alliance parent companies GE and P&W say contacts are being initiated with Airbus as well as Boeing. P&W president Louis Chenevert says: "The customers have asked us to formally study twin applications. They are the new generation 767 and the high gross weight version of the A330."
GE president James McNerney says: "There have been enquiries from Boeing and Airbus about where that engine would fit on additional applications."
The Airbus request, when received, is likely to ease potential concerns by the Engine Alliance and Boeing that the EC will reject the approach. Rolls-Royce's recent decision to offer the Trent 600 for the 747X and 767-400ERX is also expected to help overcome any potential EC opposition.
The Engine Alliance is raising the tempo of the GP7000 development effort in response to the Boeing move and in anticipation of additional Airbus work. It is accelerating the entire programme by about nine months and now plans to start detailed design of the GP7000 in January rather than September 2001.