Engine Alliance partner Pratt & Whitney (P&W) is pushing Airbus to consider adopting an enhanced derivative of the GP7000 as an alternative to Rolls-Royce's Trent powerplant for the A350 XWB widebody twinjet family.
The move comes as the European manufacturer and General Electric remain locked in a stand-off over offering the GEnx engine to A350 customers, with Airbus blaming GE for refusing to adapt its engine to satisfy its performance requirements.
P&W, a 50:50 partner with GE in Engine Alliance, believes the GP7000 can be developed into a suitable powerplant for all three planned A350 variants, the -800, -900 and -1000. The collaboration currently produces the GP7200 for the A380 and is limited to powering only that airframe under the terms of a deal struck with European Union competition authorities.
On the possibility of a GP7000 offering for the A350, P&W Commercial marketing vice president Mary Ellen Jones says: "We think it makes a lot of sense. The market likes to see competition and we are taking a very serious look at it."
GE says that if it strikes a deal to offer the current Boeing 787-optimised GEnx for the A350, it will only power the -800 and -900 variants, but not the larger -1000 as this competes directly with the exclusively GE90-powered 777-300ER.
GE has first right of refusal to offer an engine for the A350, but Engine Alliance could step in if the engine maker walks away.
Jones says that although GE is a 50:50 partner in Engine Alliance, the door could still be open to a GP7000-powered A350-1000. "It's an easier sell, but clearly there are a number of issues still," she says.
On the stalled discussions with GE, Airbus chief operating officer customers John Leahy says: "GE has to come up with the engine we need and not sit there and tell us we need to modify our aircraft."
GE says it may look again at developing a more powerful baseline GEnx derivative for the A350 after 787 flight testing begins and it obtains enough performance data to accurately predict how the engine would perform on the Airbus twinjet.
"We are very much in active conversation with Airbus," it adds.