Rolls-Royce has dominated the large-cabin, long-range business jet engine market for almost 50 years, but the selection of Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PW800 for Gulfstream’s new G500/G600 family, on top of the 2010 win by General Electric to power Bombardier’s Global 7000/8000, poses big questions over the UK engine maker’s future business jet strategy.

Although Rolls retains a large installed base of more than 3,000 aircraft, and remains busy with deliveries of the BR700 and AE3007 families to the corporate market, the company’s longer-term prospects are quite different from those envisaged just six years ago. In 2008 Rolls was busy launching the BR725 for the G650, and was sketching out a development plan for powering the next generation of business jets based on the new-generation, two-spool, RB282, which had just been selected by Dassault for its super-midsize jet, the SMS. Buoyed by this optimistic scene, and a fleet of 2,100 Rolls-powered business jets then in service, the company confidently forecast it would retain pole position in the ultra-long-range corporate market, which it estimated was worth $14 billion in engine sales over the next 20 years.

So what happened to that plan? In 2009, amid a global economic downturn and depressed business jet sales, Dassault put the SMS (later the 5X) on ice and reopened the engine to competition. The next year Snecma’s Silvercrest was quietly chosen to replace the RB282 and officially announced as the powerplant for the French jet in 2013. In the meantime, despite being the incumbent on Bombardier’s Global Express with the BR710, Rolls failed in its bid to power Bombardier’s Global 7000/8000 long-range jets in the face of tough competition from General Electric’s TechX. What is now called the Passport engine began tests in mid-2013 and is on schedule for certification in 2015.

In 2010, around the same time as Silvercrest was winning in France, Rolls was battling for a place on Gulfstream’s G500/600. The secret program, then known as project P42, was also a key target for both Pratt & Whitney Canada and GE. P&WC was hunting for a launch customer for the PW800, a non-geared derivative of the Pratt & Whitney PW1000G commercial engine, having seen its previous launch application vanish in 2009 when Cessna canceled the Citation Columbus. Rumors of P&WC’s subsequent success on the P42 continued to circle as the company began work on a demonstrator, and news of the selection was only finally confirmed by the engine maker on October 14.

P&WC’s risk-and-revenue team for the PW800 is made up of MTU of Germany, which provides the low-pressure (LP) turbine and part of the high-pressure (HP) compressor; ITP of Spain, which supplies the LP compressor and mid-turbine frame; and Italy’s Avio Aero, now owned by rival GE, which is providing the accessory gearbox, turbine-exhaust case and mixer. Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Nordam has also partnered with P&WC to supply the inlet, nacelle and thrust reverser for the two variants, the PW814GA and PW815GA engines on the G500 and G600 respectively. The unit is the largest integrated powerplant system and thrust reverser ever made by Nordam.