Air Transport World

Choose your partner: engine manufacturers learn to dance together in order to tap into 80-100 seat regional-jet market. (includes related articles)(Commuter-Regional World)

The number of engine partnerships formed in the past year is analogous to a dance. Partners have been chosen and the participants need only to get in step.

Two promising hoofers are Deutsche Aerospace subsidiary MTU and Pratt & Whitney, which are offering the RTF 180, a new 18,000-lb.-thrust turbofan for Deutsche Aerospace AG's (DASA) 80 and 130-seat jets. DASA and partners Aerospatiale and Alenia have formed an alliance to build two DASA jet variants. The first version of the RTF 180 will be derated to 16,000 lb. and will power the 80-seater that is expected to make its maiden flight in 1996. MTU and Pratt have 50/50 shares in the venture. Estimated cost for the new twinjet program is around $2.5 billion. A DASA spokesman said that the consortium is hoping for a 40% share of a market predicted at some 7,500 aircraft.

The proposed DASA twinjet is a compilation of the MPC 75 and the AAC 90/120, the former being the result of a 1988 alliance formed between Deutsche Airbus GmbH and CATIC of China. The alliance considered building two versions of the MPC 75, a short-haul jet in the 90-seat and 100-120 seat range ATW, 3/90). Meanwhile, Aeritalia-now Alenia-Aerospatiale and CASA were looking at a similar family of aircraft to be called the AAC 90/120. CATIC no longer is in the picture.

No power plant choice

DASA has yet to chose a power plant, so other engine couples bear watching, including a joint venture company formed last year by BMW and Rolls-Royce to develop a new family of engines covering a 8,000-22,000-lb.-thrust range known as the BR 700 series, which will feature a common core.

Three engines have been identified: The BR 710, with 8-14,000 lb. thrust and a 40-in. fan; the BR 715, with 14-18,000 lb. thrust with a 53-in. fan and the BR 720, with 18-22,000 lb. thrust with a 55-in. fan. Regional transports ranging from 50-90 seats and airliners from 90-130 seats can be fitted with this engine type because of the varied thrust range, Rolls-Royce claims. The BR 700 core was to have been launched in mid-March. The company is headquartered at the Oberusel engine works in Germany.

Other candidates include Allison's GMA 3014, the chosen power plant for the redesigned Embraer EMB-145 regional jet; derivatives of the GE/SNECMA CFM56; the GE/SNECMA M123, derived from its M88 fighter engine, and variants of International Aero Engines V2500 turbofans.

Among the CFM56 derivatives under study is a -5 engine with a new fan of 60-in. diameter for the downsized, 130-seat Airbus A320-dubbed the A319-and the BAe 146 twin, dubbed the NRA.

Garrett also is considering the 80-120seat market with its 18,000-lb.-thrust TFE742, a gear-driven high-bypass turbofan. The Phoenix-based maker of engines for small regional turboprop aircraft such as the Fairchild Metroliner and Jetstream 31 will enter the market only if a partner can be found. "We are not planning to commit suicide," said one Garrett executive candidly. A decision to go ahead will be made next year, following an in-house evaluation of regional-aircraft-engine requirements for 1996 and beyond.

As for its existing programs, Garrett said it has no plans to reduce its participation in Embraer's CBA-123 Vector program, despite the airframer's financial woes and experts' feeling that the regional airliner is overpriced at $5.7 million a copy. Garrett's TPF351-20 powers the 19-passenger pusher. Garrett has delivered two engine sets for the second Vector, which was to have flown in mid-March. A third CBA-123 is expected to fly in August.

Engine news elsewhere: Certification for the GE/Textron GLC38, a potential power plant for Boeing/de Havilland's Dash B-400, still is scheduled for early 1993, despite repeated rumors that the stretched Dash 8 will not be built by its new owners. …

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