Airbus seeks narrow-body jet design from engine maker GE

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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The Europe-based multinational plane maker Airbus and the American engine manufacturer General Electric (GE) are reportedly in talks to develop a next-generation aircraft.

According to reports, the plane manufacturers are seeking engine ideas for a narrow-body jet it is developing and has made a proposal for a new geared design from GE.

However, it is not clear if Airbus is working to bring a new model or an upgrade to existing models like the A320neo or A220 single-aisle jets. Any details on when GE proposed the new engine, whether the plane might come to market or how advanced the talks were, is not revealed yet.

“GE Aviation continually reviews opportunities with airframers, including Airbus and Boeing, about engine technologies for the next generation of aircraft. The details of these discussions are confidential,” the American engine manufacturer said in a statement.

The Toulouse-based aviation company is building an extra-long range version of its A321neo that will allow airlines to serve long-distance routes with smaller, more fuel-efficient aircraft.

Earlier, Airbus Chief Executive Office Guillaume Faury had stated that the firm’s next narrow-body will be a carbon-free design, along with its work underway on developing hydrogen-powered aircraft, as the company is aiming to bring the world’s first emissions-free passenger plane into service by 2035. However, Airbus refused to reveal details regarding its ongoing discussion with GE.

“We are in constant dialogue with our engine makers about the latest state-of-the-art technologies and ongoing innovations. There are many studies. Not all studies see the light of day,” the plane makers said.

GE proposed using a geared turbofan system it is developing, which it claims as a technologically preferred design for the next-generation narrow-body market, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit wrote in an opinion.

The current disclosure regarding the GE and Airbus’s ongoing discussions came in after a years-long dispute on geared turbofan patents held by Pratt, which is a unit of Raytheon Technologies Corp.