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Volvo seeks F414 assembly line


Company aims to integrate trainer turbofan in Sweden

Swedish aero-engine manufacturer Volvo Aero is aiming to host the engine integration and final assembly line for the Europeanised version of the General Electric F414M turbofan.

Volvo Aero signed an agreement last March with GE to be the European lead on the engine, which was selected to power EADS's planned Mako advanced jet trainer. GE would give Volvo Aero up to 30% of the F414M's revenue stream in return for development, production and assembly work to "Europeanise" the engine.

Volvo Aero believes European nations may insist on higher European content than the 40% specified by GE and says final assembly is likely to be carried out at its Trollhättan facilities near Gothenburg.

A decision by 12 European nations on their future training requirements under the Advanced European Jet Pilot Training, or Eurotraining, programme is expected later this year and Volvo Aero's senior vice-president for programmes Per Hroar Olsen says the development timescale fits Volvo Aero perfectly. The single-engined Mako High Energy Advanced Trainer (HEAT) is not scheduled to fly before 2009.

There is some concern within Volvo Aero about its future military projects after it completes production of the RM12 turbofan engine for the Saab/BAE Systems Gripen fighter, says Olsen. The RM12, a development of GE's F404, is expected to be upgraded in the future, but a full-scale development programme such as the F414M would be "one way to solve the post-RM12 problem", he adds.

Volvo Aero expects to leverage its engine integration and final-assembly capabilities derived from the RM12 project to secure workshare in any F414M production.

An afterburner will enable Mako to achieve Mach 1.5 in its light combat aircraft configuration, although the engine will be de-rated to 16,850lb thrust (75kN) for the HEAT configuration.

Sweden has signed up to the planned Eurotraining mechanism, which seeks to deliver a common pilot training capability from early next decade.