Rolls Royce and Boeing are discussing a new aircraft program

Rolls Royce and Boeing are discussing a new aircraft program

Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East said at the company’s annual meeting on Thursday that his company is in talks with Boeing about powering a new aircraft. This information differs slightly from previous reports that the UK engine manufacturer will not be supplying engines for Boeing’s NMA.

Boeing is being consulted

According to Bloomberg, Rolls-Royce (RR) is in talks with Boeing about a new aircraft program, the NMA (new midsize airplane), which is expected to be called the 797.

CEO Warren East was quoted as saying at Rolls-annual Royce’s meeting on Thursday:

“It’s been widely reported that Boeing is looking into the possibility of developing a new aircraft… We’re in talks with Boeing about it, just like the other engine manufacturers, I’m sure.”

The company hopes that this impressive powerplant will be able to power both widebody and narrowbody aircraft, matching the NMA’s versatility.

Rolls-Royce and Boeing

The UltraFan demonstrator is expected to be completed by the end of the year, according to Rolls-Royce. Image: Rolls-Royce

Two years will make a huge difference

Rolls-Royce withdrawn its offer to supply powerplants for Boeing’s upcoming NMA in 2019. This latest news is a strong contrast to what we heard in 2019. Rolls-Royce claimed its UltraFan engine would not be ready in time at the time of the decision, according to Gulf News.

Timelines have changed, to be sure. Boeing’s priorities have shifted as a result of the 737 MAX crisis and then the global health crisis. Indeed, after taking the helm of the organization, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun decided to scrap the program and start over. During an earnings call in January 2020, the company’s CEO said the following:

“Things have changed a little since the first clean sheet of paper was applied to it… The playing field for competitive play is a little different… We’re going to start over with a blank sheet of paper; I’m excited about it.” -Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun, via Reuters

Rolls-Royce and Boeing

Airbus has received several orders for its A321LR and A321XLR aircraft. These newer-generation planes fill the gap left by the Boeing 757 in the center of the market. Photo: Airbus

Other competitors are also in the running

Of course, as Rolls-CEO Royce’s pointed out, Boeing is in talks with more than one engine maker. It wouldn’t be a stretch to believe that other reputable engine manufacturers, such as General Electric (GE) and Pratt & Whitney (PW), are also in talks.

When FlightGlobal announced in 2018 that the three engine companies (RR, PW, and GE) had been in talks with Boeing on the NMA, Randy Tinseth, Boeing Commercial Airplanes marketing vice-president, said, “We have now taken in all three engine manufacturers…They’ve all brought ideas, and each one approaches the problem in a slightly different way.”

Rolls-Royce and Boeing

The NMA is supposed to be powered by a single manufacturer of engines. Photo: Getty Images

In April 2021, the company’s CEO has only mentioned that efficiency gains will have to come more from the aircraft’s engineering and structure, saying:

“When either side develops a new aircraft, it almost always revolves around a propulsion package that improves performance by 15% to 20% over what it replaces. That’s how it’s been down for a long time. I don’t think the next generation of engine will be able to match that level of performance.”

Regardless of whether or not there is any earth-shattering NMA news in Rolls-mention Royce’s of Boeing, it’s exciting to hear that the much-anticipated UltraFan might be in the running to power the future jet.

Do you think the NMA, like the 737 MAX and Airbus A220, should have a single-source powerplant? Will there be several engine choices (as with the Boeing 777, 787, and Airbus A380)? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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Cover Photo Credit: Getty Images

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