Air Transport World

An organization with legs: Finally able to make firm plans for a new engine, IAE sees a future involving both Boeing and a geared fan. (Engines).(International Aero Engines)

Amid the current quiet that has becalmed the industry's equipment manufacturers, International Aero Engines is solidifying its standing as a company with a future that will extend beyond its sole product, the V2500 turbofan. Doubts about the commitment of the consortium's shareholders--Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce, MTU and Japan Aero Engines--to IAE's continued existence have been left behind, believes President and CEO Steve Heath, clearing the path for development of a new engine around the turn of the decade to power the next iteration of single-aisle aircraft from Airbus and, this time for sure, Boeing.

Some nine years ago IAE was unwilling to pay the price to put the V2500 on the 737, a mistake it won't make again, Heath says. At the time, its reluctance could have seen as reasonable; the cost of playing in the Boeing market was quite high while the MD-90, a natural progression from the popular MD-SO, was nearing service introduction and the A320 was proving a highly viable mount. However, although the A320 continued to bring home the bacon for IAE, the MD-90 quickly withered and died through no fault of the powerplant. Meanwhile, 737NGs rolled our of Boeing's Renton, Wash., plant by the hundreds, all with CFM56 turbofans.

"Whether airline customers see that kind of relationship, where there is one engine on the next-generation airplane, as advantageous to them, I doubt. My general feeling is that airlines want to see at least two engines on airplanes," Heath says. "We're betting on the fact also that IAE and CFM are going to be looking at both Airbus and Boeing and saying they want both. IAE will not give the competition an opportunity to do it on their own.

This very affirmative sort of attitude is possible because Pratt & Whitney decided to drop its PW8000 program that would have competed in the V2500's market. That decision, in a very direct manner, led to the recent change in the IAE logo, the letters "IAE" substituted into the box where V2500" used to reside, a change far more substantive than might be imagined.

"As IAE became more and more successful, with huge orders, Pratt started to realize that is a good thing, leading to the announcement about the next-generation engine coming out of IAE," Heath says. …

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