Air Transport World

The power of one: GE and Rolls increasingly find themselves aligned with opposite airframe OEMs.(ENGINES)

Whether by design or by circumstance, the competitive battle between Boeing and Airbus is morphing day by day into a titanic tussle between Boeing/General Electric on the one hand and Airbus/Rolls-Royce on the other. Boeing's 777-300ER/-200LR/-200F and 747-8 are all single-source GE engine programs and the 737NG is exclusively a CFM56 program. Airbus's A350 XWB and A340-500/-600, by contrast, are powered exclusively by the UK engine manufacturer's Trent family.


Some analysts in France and the UK now suggest that with Rolls being the only engine supplier for the A350 XWB, it "may side with Airbus in sales battles against the 787"--a suggestion that Rolls strongly refutes and that GE has confronted on the narrowbody side in campaigns pitting the sole-source 737NG against the dual-source A320 family.

Today's battle is reminiscent of the high-stakes sporty game that played out in 1968 when Lockheed and Rolls partnered on the L-1011 to do battle with McDonnell Douglas and GE, and to a much lesser extent Pratt & Whitney, on the DC-10. In the sales skirmishes before those trijet programs were launched, American Airlines wanted the DC-10 with the Rolls powerplant, TWA and Eastern Airlines wanted the L-1011 with the Rolls engine, while Delta Air Lines and United Airlines wanted GE engines on whichever aircraft they chose. …

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