General Electric yesterday estimated it could cost the company up to $1 billion to design a new engine to power the potential next iteration of the Airbus A350, and the company is still weighing whether it wants to make the significant investment.
GE-Aviation CEO Scott Donnelly said on the sidelines of a Wings Club speech in New York that GE was in talks with Airbus about the A350 and a possible new engine, but that no decision had been made. He said GE “would love to be on the plane,” but he had to weigh that desire against the large economic investment in a new powerplant.
Donnelly said the motor on the new engine would probably need to be about 10% larger than the GEnx that will power the Boeing 787 and the current A350 design. Other components, including the fan blades and combustors, would also be bigger, he said. The GEnx features 111-inch fan blades and thrust levels around 75,000 pounds. During recent testing, thrust levels were pushed to about 83,000 pounds.
Airbus excepts to make a decision on a new A350 design within the next four weeks, with airframer head Gustav Humbert emphasizing that the company now has a “clear view of what we want to do” (DAILY, June 15). Rolls-Royce’s offering for the A350 is the Trent 1700, which packs 63,000-75,000 pounds of thrust.