EngineAlliance GP7200 engine fails on Air France Airbus380

This time it wasn’t a Rolls Royce engine. It was an Engine Alliance (GE/Pratt & Whitney) GP7200 on an Air France Airbus A380-861 (registration F-HPJE).

Fortunately this was one engine on a 4-engine plane. Even two-engine planes (B777 for example) are supposed to be capable of making a controlled descent with just one engine, but losing one in four is a lot less chancy than one in two.

AviationSafety:

An Air France Airbus A380, operating flight AF66 from Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, France, to Los Angeles International Airport, California, USA, diverted to Goose Bay, Canada following an en route engine malfunction (Engine Alliance GP7200). 
The aircraft lost the no.4 engine inlet cowling. A decision was made to divert to Goose Bay where a safe landing was carried out on runway 26 at at 15:42 UTC. 
After landing, ARFF reporting damage to the leading edge of the wing above the no. 4 engine. Additionally, the no.4 engine cowling had disintegrated. 
Photos from the incident seem to show that the entire fan is missing from the engine. 

EngineAlliance is an American aircraft engine manufacturer based in East Hartford, Connecticut. The company is a 50/50 joint venture between GE Aviation, a subsidiary of General Electric, and Pratt & Whitney, a subsidiary of United Technologies.

The GP7200 is a twin spool axial flow turbofan that delivers 70,000 pounds of thrust for the Airbus A380. The GP7200 is derived from two of the most successful wide body engine programs in aviation history—the PW4000 and GE90 families. The engine benefits from each programs’ latest proven technologies and incorporates lessons learned from more than 25 million flight hours of safe operation on both engines. The GP7200 entered service in 2008 with the world’s largest A380 fleet, Emirates. The first GP7200-powered A380 was delivered to Air France in 2009. 

No injuries, no fatalities.

The GP7200 competes with the Rolls Royce Trent 900 for the A380. It has always struck me that with only two suppliers available, this is a strange competition where neither can afford the other to fail. In fact the plane manufacturers and the airlines both need that neither fails. Markets don’t like monopoly situations. History shows that monopoly situations can lead to the death of a product or even a technology. It may take time but alternative technologies do appear.

As I wrote some 7 years ago:

Trent 900 vs. GP7200: Competitive pressures getting too hot? 

…… It follows that for the airlines and the airplane manufacturers that the market (in this case the number of A 380s) be split between the two suppliers such that:

  1. neither supplier gains a dominant market position such that it can dictate the engine price,
  2. each supplier has a large enough market share and sufficient earnings such that their continuation in the market is not jeopardised (for the sake of spares, service, development of new engines and, above all, to avoid a monopoly situation arising by the exit of one supplier).

If either engine supplier has an uncompetitive product – whether for price or for performance – the monopoly becomes inevitable and immediately jeopardises the continuation of the market itself. So if only one engine supplier was available, the A 380 itself becomes non-viable.


 

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