Monday, 20 February 2012

Long term horizons: Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine makes first flight on Airbus's A380 test aircraft.

Further underlining the development and investment horizons for an aerospace program that I have referred to in previous posts, I see that Airbus and R-R began flight testing of the Trent XWB engine which will power the next Airbus aircraft in development, the A350.
This successful first flight marks the beginning of a 7 month phase of testing which itself is some 6 years after the reviewed/redesigned A350 - XWB project was launched in December 2006. 
The original A350 project, rushed out to compete with Boeing's 787, was officially launched in October 2005.

Following delays, the first A350 is planned to enter service in the first half of 2014 with the most recently conceived variant, the A350 - 1000 not expected to enter service before 2017.

So that will be close to 9 years from project launch to entry into service which is a sizeable timeframe before revenues start flowing and longer still to break-even point on the sale of the aircraft.
Thats also a significant investment in time, money, and resource capability. 
It must take a lot of foresight as well but the 20-30 years in service of a successful program can reap rewards.
As such the required resource and investment serves as a huge barrier to new entrants which leaves the outstanding question as being: do the dominant companies have the financial strength to make that kind of investment and the capability to make enough money out of it?

Looking at the A350 program, Rolls-Royce has an exclusive engine supply contract on the A350 - 1000, and currently, although subject to change, the company is still the only engine manufacturer selected by Airbus for the A350 - 800 and A350 - 900 variants.

As at 31st January 2012 , Airbus lists 555 orders for the A350 and with 2 engines per aircraft....

Related articles:

Previous related posts:
- Rolls-Royce Powers through the £1bn Profits barrier for the first time.

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