GE-Pratt Examine Airbus A380 Engine Upgrade to Better Fuel Burn

The partnership of General Electric Co. and Pratt & Whitney is considering major upgrades to the engine powering Airbus SAS A380 super-jumbos as it seeks to maintain its market lead by improving fuel efficiency.

“We are working with our engineering team and asked them to put together a whole suite of options,” Dean Athans, president of the Engine Alliance joint venture, said today at the Dubai Air Show. Engineering work will conclude this year, with the upgrade options to be examined with customers in 2014.

The Engine Alliance features on most Airbus A380s after the powerplant was selected by Emirates for the first 90 Emirates super-jumbos, giving the GP7200 a market share lead over the Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc Trent 900 turbine option. Emirates President Tim Clark has said he’d like to see future engine improvements for the A380.

“I wouldn’t take anything off the table,” Athans said of the options under consideration. Some changes may be introduced as early as in a couple of years, while a more extensive overhaul would take longer to develop.

The GP7200 also powers Air France A380s, as well as those from Korean Air, and will be used by Qatar Airways Ltd. from next year, Etihad Airways PJSC, Russia’s TransAero and Air Austral on their superjumbos. Rolls-Royce has a broader range of customers, though they account for fewer engines.

The Engine Alliance will introduce smaller parts upgrades in the middle of next year to be used on new and existing engines to improve reliability and long-term performance, Athans said. These should address the cause of an in-flight GP7200 shutdown Emirates experienced this year.

The Engine Alliance is trying to address Emirates’ demands as the carrier placed an order for 50 more A380s without making an engine commitment.

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