The Engine Alliance, a 50/50 joint venture between GE Aircraft Engines and Pratt & Whitney, was formed in August 1996 to develop, manufacture, sell, and support a family of modern technology engines for new high capacity, long range aircraft.
A Bit of History
In mid-1996, Boeing announced it was beginning development of new growth derivatives of the venerable 747, the 747-500/600. Neither GE Aircraft Engines nor Pratt & Whitney had engines in their own product lines in the necessary 70,000-85,000 lb (311-378 kN) thrust range. Each company had independently forecast worldwide demand for aircraft in this market segment and determined that it might not be large enough to justify the approximate $1 Billion cost to develop a new-centerline engine. Still, the market segment and potential customer base were too large to ignore. A joint venture between these otherwise aggressive competitors seemed the logical solution. Therefore, on August 28, 1996, GE and Pratt & Whitney established a joint venture company named GE-P&W Engine Alliance, LLC to develop the GP7000 engine.
The idea was to use the core competencies of each parent company to design, develop, certify, and manufacture a state-of-the-art high bypass turbofan engine for 450-seat and larger 4-engined aircraft. All customer interfaces including Sales, Marketing, Contracts, Finance, and Customer Support functions would be handled within the joint venture company. Design, development, certification and production would be done by the parent companies. In this way, the customer would have the Engine Alliance to meet all their needs, while the Engine Alliance would be most efficiently supported by the parent companies.
Later, Boeing shelved immediate plans for a growth 747 version. In the meantime, Airbus began to study development of an aircraft called the A3XX, to be the largest ever commercial transport. Airbus approached the Engine Alliance about studying engines for the new airplane. The EA supported Airbus preliminary development with various GP7000 engine designs for the A3XX between 1998 and 2000. Airbus made it official on December 19, 2000 by launching the A380 program. On May 19, 2001, the GP7000 program was launched once and for all when Air France selected the GP7270 to power their 10 A380-800 passenger aircraft on order.