7E7 will have interchangeable engine types.


Well-Known Member
This will be pretty amazing! Read on.


7E7 engines could have a twist
Using 2 suppliers would allow swaps

Thursday, March 11, 2004


The Boeing Co. is about a month away from deciding who will supply the all-important engines for its 7E7 Dreamliner, the executive who heads the program said yesterday.

If two engine makers are selected, as expected, the 7E7 will have a capability not seen before in the jet age -- interchangeable engine types.

Mike Bair, vice president of the 7E7 program, told reporters during a conference call that it will be easy to swap engine types on the new super-efficient jet -- assuming Boeing picks two engine makers.

In other words, a 7E7 could be flying with Rolls-Royce engines one day, and General Electric or Pratt & Whitney engines the next day.

For the aviation industry, that would be a little like Clark Kent rushing into a phone booth and emerging seconds later as Superman.

The complex task of swapping out jetliner engine types today is nearly impossible and likely would take months -- assuming an airline would want to do it.

But it will take only 24 hours to switch out engine types on the 7E7, Bair disclosed.

For an airline, staying with one engine type reduces costs.

But the ability to swap engine types would be an important selling point for leasing companies and others who finance airplanes and move them around.

And it would make the 7E7 far more appealing across different airlines.

Consider the 17-member Star Alliance, which includes major international airlines such as United, Lufthansa, Singapore, Air Canada, Air New Zealand and All Nippon Airways.

The world's largest airline alliance has said it might consider a group purchase of 7E7s. Different airlines in the alliance could operate the planes as needed. This would be much easier, and would provide better operating economics if an airline in the alliance had the option of swapping engine types if necessary.

"This offers airlines a lot of flexibility and will increase the 'financibility' of the plane," Bair said.

"One issue that people who finance planes have is the mobility of planes from one carrier to another," he added. "Having the wrong engine when trying to move from one airline to another impedes the marketability."

The 7E7 will be designed so that the physical job of swapping engine types can be accomplished by mechanics in a matter of hours.

It will also require a quick software change in the flight-deck avionics so the twin-engine 7E7 will know that a different engine type has been installed.

Bair said Boeing probably will announce by mid-April its choice of engine suppliers.

The big three -- Rolls-Royce, General Electric and Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies -- are engaged in a fierce competition for the contract.

"All three engines companies are progressing very well," Bair said. "They have very competitive technical offers. We are having detailed business discussions."

The engine makers have also been busy talking with airlines about their respective engine designs for the 7E7.

Bair said Boeing is leaning toward having two engine suppliers rather than one. It previously ruled out having all three.

The 7E7 engine contract will be worth billions of dollars.

Boeing has forecast a potential market for its new jet of 2,500 to 3,000 units.

Bair revealed several other 7E7 developments during yesterday's briefing:

The range of the baseline 7E7 has been increased by 700 nautical miles to 8,500 nautical miles (9,781 statute miles). That was mainly done, Bair said, so the plane can carry up to six more tons of cargo on longer flights.

Boeing will also develop a short-range 7E7 and a stretch version. The baseline and short-range planes will come first.

Bair said he remains confident that Boeing will have its first 7E7 orders by mid-2004.

"There is a lot of interest in this plane in Asia and a lot of momentum," he said.

But he also said Boeing is having encouraging discussions about the new plane with some U.S. airlines, as well as airlines in Europe and the Middle East.

"My sense is this will be sooner rather than later," Bair said.

The 7E7, he said, will be priced at about $120 million, which is the average list price of the 767- 300ER, one of the planes it will replace.


Vice President of Awesome
I didn't realize that the announcement was only about a month away. I hope GE and Pratt win. I'm still a little peeved at Rolls Royce for killing the L-1011