IAE consortium seeks new opening as V2500 production breaks records
For the makers of an engine that should be entering its twilight years, times have never been so busy for International Aero Engines (IAE), the multinational consortium behind the V2500.
Production for thefamily is at an all-time high, and as IAE marks its 30th anniversary, the venture's shareholders are studying plans to jointly market the and Pratt & Whitney's , one of two engine choices for the reengined Airbus A320NEO. The move to sell the geared turbofan (GTF) through IAE, if agreed, would leverage the consortium's hard-won market presence to bolster Pratt's head-to-head contest with 's .
“At this time, IAE's party companies are discussing opportunities for a future approach to the market for V2500 and PW1100G engines. The intent is to make any coordinated approach beneficial for customers,” the engine maker confirms. First mooted by Pratt President David Hess in 2011, the concept of marketing the engine under the IAE portfolio became increasingly viable in October that year whenagreed to sell its 32.5% equity stake to Pratt for $1.5 billion. The revised IAE arrangement saw MTU's share grow to 16%, while Japanese Aero Engines (JAEC) retained its original 23% workshare; Pratt holds the balance.
Since then, Rolls transitioned to become a strategic supplier in 2012, with the final few Rolls personnel expected to move back to the U.K. from IAE's Connecticut headquarters by the third quarter this year. IAE has delivered more than 5,500 V2500s and, with almost 200 airline customers, has a broad penetration of the Airbus market sector being targeted by Pratt for its PW1100G. However, for the moment there are apparently no plans for IAE to front sales of other GTF versions which are in development to power platforms including's second-generation , 's , the and the MS-21.
IAE President Jon Beatty says: “The decision hasn't been made,” but adds that the idea “makes perfect sense. It's what Airbus wants and leasing companies will like that. The shareholders are working together to figure out how best we'd do that.” Pratt currently has around 1,150 PW1100Gs on firm order for the A320NEO, or slightly under half the overall market that has so far selected an engine. The first Pratt-powered NEO is due to enter service in October 2015.
The consortium is meanwhile gearing up to deliver more than 500 V2500s to the A320-family production lines in 2013, its busiest ever year. “We're breaking production records year-on-year,” says Beatty, who notes 450 were delivered in 2012 against some 420 the prior year. “This is the highest number we've done in the history of the program, and we expect over 500 to be delivered again in 2014. We expect to sell at least another 700 V2500s,” he adds. Rolls is set to continue building 50% of the engines for the next five years, with all final production of V2500s transitioning to Pratt's Middletown, Conn., facility, when combined volume drops below 250.
Following the restructuring of the consortium, the remaining IAE partners—Pratt & Whitney, MTU and JAEC—agreed to extend the collaboration to 2045. Although it does not expect to be still supplying V2500s to Airbus much beyond 2018, Beatty says the partners are committed for a steady 20-plus-year production run to support thetanker-transport. The V2500E5 engine variant, which will be 95% common with the current V2500A5 Airbus engine, will be supplied at the rate of 20 per year to support Embraer's planned annual output of 10 KC-390s.
The SelectOne-production standard V2500 will power the twin-engine Brazilian transport, which is scheduled to enter service in the first quarter of 2016. Certification is targeted for the third quarter of 2015, adds Beatty. The first six engines will be assembled this year, with three due for delivery to Embraer's Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, production site in 2013 and three in Jan 2014.
In the meantime IAE plans to bolster the appeal of the V2500 with a further phase of its “Select” upgrade series. The SelectThree will target maintenance cost reductions, but IAE says work continues “with airlines to determine what product enhancements they would like to see in our next upgrade. There is not a launch date for it yet.” However, Beatty says “I'd like to have a decision by the end of the year.” There are few details about the proposed package, which aims to slow the exhaust gas temperature margin.
The SelectOne upgrade, which was introduced in 2008, reduces fuel burn by 1% and increases engine life by 20%. SelectTwo, which will be available in the third quarter of 2014, introduces additional improvements in fuel burn and maintenance via modifications to the scheduling of bleed air and introduction of fault detection diagnostic software in the electronic engine control system. “We conducted flight-testing to verify fuel burn benefit last summer at Airbus, and the test verified a 0.5% benefit. Software validation work is now being conducted to prepare for operability testing in May,” says IAE.
“We are working with Airbus now on whether we make it the standard bill-of-materials for the engine or an option,” says Beatty who adds the former is more likely, with the upgrade being offered as a retrofit.