Airbus chief executive Louis Gallois has held face-to-face talks with senior General Electric management over finalising the possible go-ahead of a new variant of the GEnx engine for the A350 XWB. The talks follow increased pressure from customers on the two manufacturers to come up with a solution by June.
Gallois, who was visiting the USA this week to attend a commemorative event for recently deceased and former GE president Brian Rowe, extended his stay to meet with senior GE officials, say airline sources. GE could not confirm the talks but says “we have a team over in Toulouse full time which is doing a technical evaluation of the aircraft and we’re trying to reach a business agreement. We know there are customers who would like to see a GE engine available.”
GE is believed to be looking at a possible GEnx variant to power the -800 and -900 variants of the A350, but not the -1000, the largest member of the family. GE has adamantly resisted offering an engine for the -1000, for fear of potentially cannibalizing long-term sales of the Boeing 777-200LR/300ER, for which it has exclusivity with the GE90-115B.
Airline pressure for a GE engine option is believed to be coming particularly from Qatar Airways, US Airways and Singapore Airlines, as well as others within the original launch group that either originally selected GE or that have not yet settled for the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-powered option. R-R offers engines for all three A350 models.
For full details of this story see the next issue of Flight International magazine, out on 24 April, with full text available on flightglobal.com.