777-X and GE

Rolls Royce has told people that it has lost the opportunity to be on the 777-X models and we know that Pratt & Whitney has been “out” for some time.  Customers are probably not thrilled with the prospect of a single engine offering for the two 777-X models.

Competition helps a lot although Rolls Royce has impacted itself by aggressively retaining engine overhaul and maintenance for itself even in the used market.  RR says it doesn’t want to be second fiddle to GE and I say it wouldn’t have been.  There are a great number of 777 aircraft out there today using the Rolls Royce Trent engines.  In fact, some would even say that they were the preferred engine for 777-200ER.

Boeing likes the partnership because it keeps complexity down and profits up.  GE likes it because it gets to enjoy a kind of dominance in this class of airliner for as much as 20 years.   And everyone makes money.

But airlines should question whether or not this is what they want.  Even if GE is able to provide exactly the engine everyone wants, competition here would be wise.   These engines cost so much that two of them can exceed the price of a 737.  That’s a lot of money to spend on two engines.

Boeing is working too much on these partnerships, in my opinion.  It needs newer partnerships with both Rolls Royce and Pratt & Whitney.  These companies have something to offer in terms of different approaches and viewpoints.

For example, how is that the Pratt & Whitney GTF isn’t on the 737Max?  There certainly will be more than enough of those aircraft produced to justify two engine choices.  It’s notable that GE controls the Leap56 engine.

The authorization to offer the 777 to customers will come within a couple of weeks and Boeing will start soliciting orders for the 777-X airplanes aggressively.  Airlines would be wise to stand firm and ask for two engine choices before committing to orders.  That’s something that could save them hundreds of million of dollars over the life of the 777-X family.

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