Emirates asking for A380 engine enhancements

Emirates obviously wants some enhancements for their A380 engines - at least for the aircraft that should one day replace the first ninety. The last of these aircraft will be delivered in 2017 and by that time Airbus will have delivered around 240 A380 if all production slots are filled until that time. Well, obviously some of the ordered aircraft will be either delivered later as their deliveries are deferred (like for Virgin Atlantic) of won't be delivered at all (read: Kingfisher and probably Hong Kong Airlines as well as Air Austral).
Two engine manufactures share the A380 market: Rolls Royce and the Engine Alliance (50:50 JV between GE and P&W). Let's say both have around 50% of the market (actually, thanks to the large Emirates orderbook EA has a slight lead), then both manufacturers will have delivered 480 engines plus spares.
Now Emirates asks for a "propulsion technology crossover into the A380, in terms of what they’re doing on the 777X, the A320neo and the 737MAX”, says Emirates president Clark and claims that one of the EA partners will produce "wonders in propulsion technology" by 2020, when the A380 still should have GP7200 engines (and the Trent 900 of course as well). So he asks what the plans from GE and P&W are to improve propulsion efficiency of the GP7200.
my first question would be who of the two EA partners will produce these "wonders"?
  • Does he refer to the GE9X? He should have a good knowledge about what GE is planning for this engine, although some questions arose around his comment that the engine would need water injection to be able to lift the B777X from Dubai year-round: read the first reaction from GE here, another one here. Clearly, the GE9X will be the state-of-the-art engine in it's class, encompassing the Trent XWB-97, as overall pressure ratio and bypass ratio will be higher and the use of CMC should save some cooling air, further elevating the core efficiency compared to the latest Trent engine.
  • Or does he refer to the Geared Turbo Fan from P&W. From all what we know this engine defines the segment of the regional and  narrowbody engines for the years to come (closely followed by the LEAP engine family, of course).
Nevertheless which engine concept Clark has in mind, I wonder if the two partners in the EA are ready for a big improvement programme for the GP7200. Small improvements have already been made: today's GP7200 are better by 2% than original spec values. To improve the engine by any big (SFC percentage) number should be at least very costly, if not impossible without a change in architecture. But with only about 500 engines of the GP7200 sold by then there would be no hope for the engine program to ever produce a profit. So EA (as well as RR) will do whatever they can to avoid another large development investment in the engine. RR could on the other hand also offer a downrated Trent XWB, although this engine might be too heavy for the wing as it is today.
Last week , there was speculation in a german newspaper about what might be the A380 going forward plan from Airbus. Günter Butschek, Airbus COO speculated about "modifications" for the aircraft, Heinrich Großbongardt, a german aviation consultant, speculated about an A380neo. I guess in Hartford, Cincinnati and Derby this was not a fun-to-read...


  1. Well, is definitely not fun to read when a company invest so much money on a engine program and don't even get enough time to recover its investment before is asked by customers to come up with a better solution.
    If these engines failed to meet spec I can understand the engine maker has to improve the engine at all cost, but when the engines are already performing at better than specs, how can they be asked for more so soon?

  2. RR, PW and GE probabyl knew themselves, that they cannibalize their own markets when giving large twins new engines. The question is if they let the A380 die a slow and costly death, or if they invest in that program. That appears especially promising for RR: they are no share in the B777-X, and could be sole source provider of engines for a new A380 version. EA (PW+GE)? Either they invest, or split up and PW tries to develop a GTF engine in the 70klbf class. Not sure if that works or makes sense at all.

  3. This is not good news for the A380 programme. I don't see either engine eom investing heavily into a PPI package to gain another 2% if that is possible but again 2% gain may not satisfy the operators. It is clear that Emirates president Clark is not talking about 2% or 3% improvement, he wants figures upward of 10% as Boeing has improved from the 747-400 to the 747-8I.
    Being an important customer (in fact the only customer who keeps the a380 production line going) , EK will push for improvements with threats to defect to Boeing. AB will have no choice but to bow down and put pressure on engine manufacturers.
    Surely the engine eom will not take the risk on their own, AB will have to contribute financially given that the aircraft it self isn't selling too well. Eventually they will comeup with a NEO and make all sorts of claims about it as ab always does with it's products. Hopefully EK will be satisfied and keep buying the a380.
    One must remember though that such neo engine will not come anytime soon as the engines eom have their hands full with current programmes. Unfortunately for EK , they will not have the neo engine anytime before 2025.

  4. Don't get fooled by precentage numbers. Double-digit percentage numbers improvement are maybe possible when you compare a 1980 CF6 against a 2011 GEnX. The GE9X will in my opinion not receive a double-digit improvement. The current A380 engines are no gas guzzlers.

    1. Schorsch, my guess is that the GEnx is 2-3% better in SFC than the GP7000, the Trent XWB was advertised by Airbus as boeing 2% better than the B787 engines (GEnx, T1000). So take the GEnx and add the larger bypass ratio, higher OPR and better component efficiencies thanks to larger size and added technology plus savings in cooling air through the use of CMC and you will get at least something close to double digit SFC improvements. That does not mean that the A380 engines are gas guzzlers, just that the GE9X is two generations further down the road...

  5. Maybe some go faster stripes? This is Clarke putting on the pressure,but in reality 2020? Because he has the
    finance behind him,it's easy to create a situation to worry the engine manufacturers. They have their books full now,and trying to deliver the improved engines of today,let alone pull miracles out of thin air. Unless he has REAL
    information about GE engines,with more power output,its pointless. The 777x has huge engines,would they fit a A380? Of course not,their diameter precludes that,so what is Clarke saying?