SEATTLE — Airbus plans to announce at the Paris Air Show a more powerful engine for its planned A350-1000, strengthening that jet's position against the jewel in Boeing's current airplane lineup, the 777-300ER.
Aviation analyst Scott Hamilton reported on his Leeham.net blog that British engine-maker Rolls-Royce will provide an enhanced version of its Trent XWB jet engine to increase the range of the A350-1000, the largest model in the proposed A350 jet family. The Seattle Times has confirmed his report.
Boeing has been waiting for Airbus to more firmly define the A350-1000 before deciding when and how it needs to upgrade the 777 to stay competitive.
Executives in Seattle have said they expect to develop a new small airplane to replace the 737 and also a larger version of the Dreamliner, the 787-10, before they do a major upgrade to the 777.
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Rolls-Royce will provide Airbus an engine variant that adds 5.4 percent more thrust to the Trent XWB version on the two smaller A350 variants, Hamilton said. Airbus declined to comment.
Boeing executives have been publicly skeptical that the previous sketchy definition of the A350-1000 could perform as promised, and the need for a higher-thrust engine is not a surprise.
Some airline executives, including Emirates CEO Tim Clark, have urged Airbus to add power and increase the size of the A350-1000. Clark wants a big jet capable of flying fully loaded from Dubai to Los Angeles.
Hamilton reported that Airbus won't increase the size of the 350-seat A350-1000, which is smaller than the 365-seat 777-300ER.
The extra thrust should increase the jet's range by 575 miles (500 nautical miles), beyond that of the 777, but will still fall short of Clark's goal, Hamilton said.
Development of the higher-thrust engine will push out the A350-1000's entry into service from 2015 to late 2016.
Boeing executive Lars Andersen leads a Boeing team doing detailed analysis of the Airbus plans and working out what response is needed.
The Airbus/Rolls-Royce announcement in Paris should clarify for Andersen what his 777 may be up against.