After missing out on key program selections for the new Airbus A350XWB and Boeing 787 programs, French nacelle maker Aircelle is laying plans for what
Rolls-Royce Trent 900
Turbine-engine technology development is going in two directions. One is the development of new technology to push the envelope of performance, operational safety, maintainability and reliability. The other is to refine and update existing engines for long-term use, especially in light of more stringent Stage 4 requirements and existing Stage 3 rules.
Starting with its first “clean sheet” engine design since 1972, but minus one of the two original customers, Honeywell brought the new AS907 to dual FAA engine and production certification in June, just 44 months after the project was launched.
Two and a half years after its first flight, the Airbus A380 airliner entered service late in October with Singapore Airlines (SIA). While SIA has received the only example of the super large airliner slated for 2007 delivery, next August Emirates Airline is slated to get the first of the 55 A380s it has ordered to date.
In recent years, engine manufacturers have shifted their emphasis from straightforward production of engines to the far more lucrative business of after-sales support.
Rolls-Royce is no exception. In the last decade, its TotalCare engines business has expanded by a healthy 10 percent a year, creating a business that by the end of 2006 was worth $3.9 billion–more than half the company’s total civil engines business.
Manufacturers of nacelles and thrust reversers have no less interest in introducing new technology to their designs than do the suppliers of the engines inside them.
Having promised so much and letting its A380 launch customers down so dismally with the news of serious program delays, Airbus is understandably cautious in its prognosis for the super-large airliner’s immediate future. All the talk in press briefings before the Paris Air Show concentrated on achieving “maturity” and “sustainability” for the program.
A titanic battle appears to be shaping up in the 10,000-pound thrust segment of the aero engine market, where there is a need for powerplants to drive the coming super-midsize and large business jets, as well as smaller regional airliners.
Airbus last month unveiled its first complete A380 double-decker, making the European consortium the builder of the world’s biggest passenger airplane. In the high-profile January 18 ceremony at the Toulouse final assembly facility in Southern France, the European manufacturer unveiled to 5,000 guests, among them four heads of state, F-WWOW, which will be the first of the 555-seaters to fly.
The mammoth A380 made a triumphal arrival on the Paris Air Show’s center stage here yesterday morning. Airbus’ long-awaited double-decker airliner drew exhibitor set-up staff from the halls and chalets to marvel as it gracefully (and almost silently) appeared on the Le Bourget horizon.