Paul Lewis/WASHINGTON DC Andrew Doyle/MUNICH
German engine manufacturer MTU is set to conclude significant workshare agreements with Engine Alliance partners General Electric (GE) and Pratt & Whitney (P&W) on the GP7000 turbofan. Combined with Snecma's recently agreed investment in the joint venture, the deal would give European industry more than a one-third stake in the GP7000 programme.
The new turbofan is set to become the premier offering by the two US manufacturers in the high-thrust engine market, taking over from the CF6 and PW4000 as a rival to the Rolls-Royce Trent. It is offered on the Airbus A380, Boeing 747X and 767-400ERX and will probably power future variants of the A330.
GE has signed a memorandum of understanding with MTU to be a risk and revenue-sharing participant, focusing on the GP7000's high-pressure turbine (HPT). The deal represents around a 10% share of the programme and encompasses development and production of the HPT's static structure, as well as manufacture of GE-designed blades and vanes.
MTU is also in the final stages of negotiating a similar deal with P&W to take a stake in its half of the GP7000 powerplant. It is interested in taking responsibility for the engine's low-pressure turbine. The company anticipates that the two agreements would give it an overall 23% stake in the programme and make it the largest single participant outside of GE and P&W.
Late last year, Snecma struck a deal with GE to become a revenue- sharing participant with responsibility for design, development and production of the GP7000's nine-stage high-pressure compressor. This gives the French engine manufacturer approximately a 10% share of the overall programme.
The company has already been participating in testing of the GP7000's core, which is closely linked to that of the GE90. Snecma holds a 24% stake in the GE90 turbofan and is also a GE partner on the smaller CF6 and CFM56 engine series. MTU similarly is a longtime P&W partner, with the V2500 family, JT8D-200 and PW4084 engines.
Enlisting European industry support for the GP7000 is of strategic importance to the Engine Alliance trying to secure a launch order for the GP7200 on the Airbus A380. The engine is facing strong competition from the Rolls-Royce Trent 900, which has already been selected for the A380 by lead customers Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.
The GP7200 is Air France's preferred choice of engine for its planned 10 A380s, while Lufthansa is looking closely at passenger and freighter versions of the ultra-large aircraft (Flight International 2-8 January). If the German carrier opts for the competing Boeing 747X, the smaller GP7100 would also be a strong contender.
Qantas is expected to decide by the end of the month on a choice of engine for its newly chosen fleet of A380s, A330-200s and 747-400Xs. Engine selection is also pending at Emirates, which, if it wants to retain its number three delivery slot on the A380, will likely have to opt for the Trent 900 lead certification engine.
Source: Flight International