June 17, 2015, Paris Air Show, c. Leeham Co. Engine Alliance, one of the two power plant suppliers for the Airbus A380, said today that it is undertaking Performance Improvement Package (PIP) upgrades to the GP7200 to lower maintenance and operating costs and to reduce fuel burn.
This contrasts with blunt remarks from Tim Clark, president and COO of Emirates Airlines (EK), that EA has “flat lined” and isn’t undertaking PIPs. Emirates is by far the largest operator of EA-powered A380s but recently ordered the competing Rolls-Royce Trent 900s for EK’s 50 A380s ordered late last year. Clark kept engine selection open at the time.
Dean Athans, Engine Alliance president, told LNC today that the A380 is a low-volume airplane and the
business case for investing in the GP7200 to the level Clark want’s isn’t there.
“Tim is acting in the best interests of Emirates Airline, and he wants to most and the best of GP that he can get,” Athans said in an interview. “I’d do the same thing if I was in his place. He wants a brand new engine. He wants a large GTF or GE9X version for this A380s. I would, too. The position I’m in, looking at the volume and the business case for the A380, it doesn’t enable that level of investment.”
At the Annual General Meeting of the International Air Transport Assn. last week in Miami Beach (FL), Clark told LNC that EA wasn’t willing to invest in the PIPs Clark wanted, and RR is.
“Perhaps,” Athans said. “I’m not privy to what my competitor (RR) is willing to do or is willing to offer,” Athans said. “It’s hard, because it’s not a high-volume aircraft. If it was…it’s easier to get that latest technology and it’s easier to close a business case to spend a billion dollars on an improved engine or a new engine, and you can justify what he wants. I don’t blame him. I would want that also.”
Emirates aside, Athans outlined a series of improvements to the airfoils, fluid dynamics and other internal components to the GP7200. EA also has created a testing process to artificially manufacture dust similar to the desert environment that will improve engine operations and reduce costs for Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and other carriers that operate in desert environments.