The Engine Alliance GP7200 engine is expected to receive US Federal Aviation Administration certification in December following the completion of final tests. Approval will clear the way for first flight on the Airbus A380 early in 2006. The announcement comes at a key time for Dubai-based Emirates, which will be the first airline to operate the GP7200-powered A380 in 2007. The engine, developed jointly by General Electric and Pratt & Whitney, has so far accumulated almost 3,000h and 7,000 cycles during tests. The first shipset of engines delivered to Airbus in September “have demonstrated performance levels at or better than the Airbus fuel burn specification”, the Alliance says.
The final tests included a 150h block endurance test, water and hail ingestion, and tests in icing conditions. Following certification of the baseline GP7270, Engine Alliance plans to continue an ongoing service readiness programme as well as prepare the GP7277 version of the engine for certification to the higher thrust level of 81,500lb (362kN) for the higher gross-weight A380-800F in 2007.
The Engine Alliance holds the marketshare lead on the A380 with 58% of announced firm orders, or around 320 engines, valued at $4.1 billion.