Rolls-Royce keeps open mind over new Boeing mid-size jet


Having pulled out of a previous joint attempt with Boeing to address the mid-size jet market over timing issues, Rolls-Royce has confirmed that it is currently prepared to keep an open mind with regard to joining Boeing in its latest investigations. With the company being distracted with 737 MAX issues this past year, Boeing is returning its attention to plans for a 220-270-passenger mid-size jet, a sector of the market currently filled by the aerospace giant’s principal rival, Airbus, and the European planemaker’s A321XLR.

The delay in Boeing’s investigations have been beneficial for Boeing while it further develops its new Ultrafan engine technology. “We are open-minded … and will stay open-minded when we know what Boeing plans to do,” Chris Cholerton, president of civil aerospace at Rolls-Royce, told reporters at the Singapore Airshow.

Rolls-Royce’s reluctance to engage with Boeing last year was based on its reluctance to risk further disruption to customers through rushing a new jet to market. While Boeing had initially penciled in 2025 as the launch date for the new mid-size jet, this will likely now be put back to 2028, perhaps as a result of lessons learned over the speed at which the 737 MAX was developed and introduced.

In the meantime, Rolls-Royce is also looking into durability issues which have cropped up with its Trent engine family. Premature wearing of some turbine blades has reduced the number of flights an engine can operate between maintenance visits, or its durability, but Rolls-Royce has assured airlines it remains as reliable as before when in service.

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