ROLLS-ROYCE HAS signed two aerospace-technology co-operation agreements with South Korea, as competition with Pratt & Whitney and General Electric intensifies for a Korean Air (KAL) order for engines to power its future fleet of Boeing 777s.

The two agreements call for the establishment of a materials-research site in the UK, in partnership with the Korean Institute of Machinery and Metals, and a joint venture in South Korea to further develop and market a neutron-radiography system for aircraft inspection and testing.

The proposed Korea-UK Materials Research Centre, to be based in Derby, will focus on new aerospace materials, including titanium and nickel alloys. Research will involve R-R's technology centres at Birmingham and Cambridge Universities.

R-R, together with Oxford Instruments, is also looking for a second South Korean partner to develop Neu-Sight radiography-technology applications. Neu-Sight is already being used for detecting aircraft corrosion and this could be extended to include airport security and screening.

Linked to the two technology agreements is R-R's push to sell its Trent 800 engine to KAL. The company is facing strong competition from GE, offering its GE90, and P&W, offering its PW4000. KAL has ordered eight B-market 777s for delivery from 1997 onwards and has options on a further seven aircraft.

KAL had been required by Boeing to select an engine by February, but this has now been extended to 1 May.

The carrier is understood to have delayed making a final decision, so it can consider P&W's plans to develop the growth 436kN (98,000lb)-thrust PW4098, (Flight International, 22-28 February).

Source: Flight International