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Powering The Dreamliner

7E7 Engine Selection In April

Engine manufacturers are looking forward to an April Boeing decision on 7E7 powerplants, Pratt & Whitney President-Commercial Engines Robert Leduc said at the Asian Aerospace 2004. The airframe manufacturer is taking the competing engine specifications to key airline customers. "I think technically [the competitors] will all make the [specification] hurdles. I think it comes down to terms and conditions and the market reaction," Leduc said.

Boeing firmed aircraft specifications just a few weeks ago, but now "we finally locked down on thrust and configuration," allowing Pratt to deliver its "best and final" engine specifications at the end of March, Leduc said. Current talks with Boeing center on "weight vs. SFC trades…I feel pretty good about the engine," now called the PE-EXX. "We do believe you need a whole new engine for a whole new airplane." The market is largely a replacement market in which Pratt has a strong position, with Rolls-Royce notably weaker.

So large is the prospective market -- 2,000-2,500 airplanes over 20 years by Boeing's forecast, 1,900 by conservative Pratt guesses -- that Leduc plans to keep the program going in the event the PW-EXX is not selected, slowed somewhat waiting for Airbus to make decisions on what it will do with its A330 to counter the 7E7 push. "We are building the HP (high pressure) rig as we speak" in preparation for testing that will be completed by year end.

Assembly of the first GP7000 is nearing completion, with the first test runs set for East Hartford, Conn., on March 7 to be followed by the second Pratt-built engine several weeks later.

FMI: www.boeing.com

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