According to already published schedules, GE is expected to run the first version of a new core for the GE9X as early as 2014. A final decision – known as Toll Gate 6 – on freezing the design will likely take place around 2015 with first engine going to test in the 2016 timeframe.
Given this timing, the engine would be tested on GE’s 747-400 flying testbed in 2017 with certification the following year.
Rolls, by comparison, has been less bullish about the RB3025 proposal which focused on a 100,000 lb class, three-shaft design with an overall pressure ratio of 62 to 1, and a bypass ratio of 12 to 1.
Although close in thrust to the Trent XWB-97 in development for the A350-1000, Aviation Week understands part of Boeing’s reluctance to encourage the development of a new, more powerful Rolls engine was that a variant could later be adapted to suit the needs of Airbus should it subsequently develop a growth variant of the A350-1000 dubbed the A350-1200.
Pressure on Boeing to act has been growing from some airlines, mostly notably Emirates Airlines, Japan Airlines and British Airways. All Nippon Airways has also been closely involved in the airline group review process for the bigger twin. Commenting last month in Dubai, Emirates President Tim Clark said he expected a launch in “six to nine months,” which would fit the standard Boeing schedule assuming ATO in April. The 787, for example, was approved for offering to airlines by the board in December 2003 and officially launched the following April.
Indications that Boeing is gearing up for next month’s proposal to the board follows a leadership reshuffle which last week saw former 737 MAX general manager Bob Feldmann appointed as the vice president and general manager for 777X. Feldmann is another of the former Boeing military program leaders who were brought in to bolster the commercial arm under the leadership of former BCA President Jim Albaugh. Before the 737 MAX, Feldmann led the Surveillance and Engagement division within Boeing Military Aircraft, and previously managed the U.S. Navy’s EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft program.