Rolls-Royce bullish on chances in 777X engine battle

FARNBOROUGH Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:33am IST

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FARNBOROUGH (Reuters) - Rolls-Royce's track record providing engines for the three newest aircraft programs will give it an advantage in the battle to be picked by Boeing to power its next-generation 777 planes, the British firm said on Wednesday.

"We're the only enginemaker that has an optimized engine on the three latest engine programs, the Airbus A380, A350, and Boeing's 787," Robert Nuttall, Rolls-Royce's vice president for strategic marketing, told Reuters at the Farnborough Airshow.

"Pratt & Whitney and General Electric don't."

Rolls' Trent 1000 engines power Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner, which entered service last year. Rolls plans to upgrade this engine to one dubbed the Trent 1000-TEN, which will deliver 3 percent better fuel burn than the existing engine and will be used on the 787-8 and newer variants from 2016.

"The smooth entry into service of the Trent 1000 engine on the 787 shows that we can be trusted and I think that showed to Boeing they can rely on us," said Nuttall.

"We have tremendous incumbency on the widebody market - half of the widebody order book that is out there is powered by Rolls-Royce."

GE believes it has the edge because it is the current engine incumbent on the 777.

Unconvinced by re-engining programs such as the Airbus A320neo and Boeing's 737 MAX, Rolls-Royce believes the future lies in developing projects that match engines and planes from the outset of their development.

As such, Rolls last year sold its share of the International Aero Engines (IAE) consortium to Pratt & Whitney for $1.5 billion and formed a new partnership with Pratt to develop engines for mid-size aircraft of 120 seats upwards.

Nuttall, who said the new venture with Pratt would focus on geared turbofan technology among other things, believes widespread use of geared engine technology on commercial jets is close.

"Airbus and Boeing are vying with one another to see which one is better - the A320neo or the 737 MAX - and it may end up that they are both the same, and that will tell us that we're at that tipping point so the future engines we think will be geared," he said.

(Editing by Mark Potter)

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