A Salute to the V2500

International Aero Engines celebrates 30th birthday


Possibly the greatest challenge of this era is to get entities that are competitors or have divergent values and philosophies to set aside their differences in order to accomplish something for the common good. I suggest that our industry is often the exception to this observation.

One person who accomplished this seemingly impossible task was Robert “Bob” E. Rosati, a visionary and inspirational leader who could convene people and marshal resources to solve problems in a practical and lasting way. “Bob Rosati was deployed in both World War II and the Korean War where he developed a passion for the reliable Pratt & Whitney (P&W) engines. Bob became dedicated to the P&W engines and joined P&W as a test engineer trainee in 1953. While with P&W he performed in various roles and participated in most of P&W’s engine programs.”

The IAE consortium

About 30 years ago and with Rosati’s leadership, a consortium of companies that included Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce, Japanese Aero Engine Corporation (JAEC), MTU Aero Engines and FiatAvio collaborated to form International Aero Engines (IAE) and develop an engine for the 150-seat single aisle market. Their strategic goal was to design and deliver a technologically advanced engine that was cleaner, quieter, and more fuel efficient. The result was the V2500, a modularly designed, two-shaft high-bypass turbofan engine.

Getting some of the world’s leading aero engine manufacturers to sign on as stakeholders and further have them agree to each build one of the engine modules, is a display of real collaboration. The genius of the IAE approach was that each company’s engineers could focus on continuously improving their particular module. Today each shareholder still contributes and refines their individual module for the V2500 engine:

• Combustor and high-pressure turbine: Pratt & Whitney

• High-pressure compressor: Pratt & Whitney Aero Engines International

• Fan and low-pressure compressor: JAEC

• Low-pressure turbine: MTU

About half of the new V2500 engines are assembled by Rolls-Royce at the Dahlewitz, Germany, facility and the other half by Pratt & Whitney at its Middletown, CT, facility. When asked about the practices that contributed to IAE’s success, the answers were hard work, experience, trust, respect, and ample communication.

According to Jon Beatty, IAE’s president, “An important part of IAE’s success over the past 30 years is the diversity of its shareholders and their ideas and opinions. Despite the cultural, language, and time differences, IAE and its shareholder companies have learned the nuances of communicating effectively.

“As a multinational company with shareholder companies located in the United States, Japan, Germany, and Switzerland, there is a need to communicate with peers on a daily basis. This is done routinely using web conferencing and teleconferencing and supplemented with face-to-face meetings as needed.” This is a great approach for business operations; however, I was curious about how final technical decisions were made.

According to Beatty, “IAE is the type certificate holder for the V2500 and the IAE vice president of engineering is responsible for approving all engineering changes on the V2500. However, IAE depends heavily on the technical expertise of its shareholder companies.”

A year after signing the collaboration agreement, the V2500 was selected to power the Airbus A320 family and now the V2500-A5 model has “about 50 percent of the A320 orders.” Today there are four V2500 models — the A1, A5, D5, and E5, with thrust ratings ranging from 22,000 to 33,000 pounds. These V2500 models power the Boeing MD-90, the Airbus A320 family, and the Embraer KC-390. Continuous improvements to the product have kept the V2500 technology updated. Finnair recently selected IAE V2533-A5 engines for its five new Airbus A321. The A5 engine operates within ICAO and EU noise limits and with a savings over the competition of about “300 tons of fuel per year per aircraft, helping reduce Finnair’s total carbon foot print.” The selection of the V2500 for Embraer’s KC-390 is another testimony to the continued adaptability and reliability of the engine.

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