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Trusted partners win share of GE9X programme

It came as no surprise that the four companies named by GE yesterday (July 10) as revenue-sharing participants to the GE9X programme are those with which it has a long working history.

Japanese firm IHI Corporation, formerly known as Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries, is set to design and manufacture components in the new engine’s LPT and fan mid-shaft. Alongside producing military engines for GE for more than 60 years, IHI was involved with the development of the CF34, GE90 and the GEnx engines.

Similarly, Germany’s MTU Aero Engines worked on the CF6, GP7200 and GEnx engine programmes and will now develop and produce the turbine centre frame for the GE9X.

The final two companies are Safran’s Techspace Aero, which will design and produce the GE9X’s LPC and manufacture its fan disk after involvement with the CF34, GEnx and Passport engines, and, of course, GE’s CFM International partner Snecma. For the GE9X Snecma will create the composite forward fan case and the turbine rear frame, as well as working with GE through their joint venture CFAN on the composite fan blades.

Contributing to the development of the engine for the forthcoming 777X will involve significant investment from each of the companies, but it’s not without the promise of substantial returns. 

Boeing has already received orders for up to 300 of the aircraft, which isn’t due to enter into service until 2020. Just this week, Emirates finalised its record-breaking order for 150 777Xs and other airlines with firm orders include All Nippon Airways, Etihad and Cathay Pacific.

The four firms chosen as participants in the GE9X will be responsible for 25 per cent of the workload and will be rewarded with a corresponding share in sales. For MTU, which is taking on a four per cent share of the programme, the deal will be worth an estimated €4bn ($5.4bn) across the lifetime of the programme, more than the company’s total sales in 2013.

Safran has confirmed its companies will be taking on an 11 per cent share of the work and that the work will ensure that Techspace Aero, which is already a key supplier of LPCs for narrowbody jets, will also become “a leader in the long-range widebody market”. The firm predicts that the GE9X programme will account for 15 per cent of its total production in 2020.

A survey of aerospace manufacturers published this week by KPMG, revealed that the vast majority felt that the “future of innovation” lay in working in partnership with suppliers. The challenge for companies is how to get the attention of those who already have a lot of long-standing relationships.

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