Engine choice narrows A380 order options

Airbus management is undergoing a shake up as retirements speed up – largely due to an investigation into payments for orders the company may have made to airlines.

Emirates CEO Tim Clarke has got to be close to retirement and he was the architect of Emirates A380 strategy. It’s no longer certain Emirates future managers see the A380 in the same light.

Add to that the choices for airline and manufacturer are being removed for them by the Engine providers.

Engine Alliance one of the three major suppliers of power units for the A380 stops making engines before March 2018.

GE is winding down its production and has no interest in rebuilding an order book it sees as an investment dead end. Even new orders would be hard pressed to tempt it to stay in the game past current commitments.

That leaves Rolls Royce and they’ve tied their future to the 787 options but being principally A330neo and A350 sole supplier.

Rolls Royce gained a 200 unit order for Emirates last batch of A380’s, based on fuel economy claims that may not have been realised as effectively as Emirates might have liked. Rolls also offered an extensive maintenance deal they’re not willing to repeat.

With one engine supplier in the game driving a hard bargain, a manufacturer who seems directionless and unwilling to commit, Emirates choices are narrowing.

Engine manufacturers are even less interested in maintaining production for aircraft that may simply never need spares and maintenance for the next 25 years or more. The spectre of 10-12 year old A380’s heading direct to the scrap yard looks increasingly likely. That means lots of young, cheap engines in the second hand market. Nobody will need new.

Could it be engine choices, or lack of them, are just another nail in the coffin of the A380?