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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Rotorcraft Report: Rolls, USMC Square Off on V-22 Engine Support

PRODUCTS | ENGINES

Rolls-Royce Corp. has told the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command it can no longer afford to sustain engines it makes for the V-22 Osprey under a 1998 power-by-the-hour contract and wants to renegotiate. In response, NavAir is considering options as drastic as seeking a new engine for the tilt-rotor, said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Matthew Mulhern, NavAir’s V-22 program manager.

Rolls-Royce told the V-22 office "it’s no longer cost-effective for them to support the V-22 engine under their current power-by-the-hour agreement," Mulhern told Rotor & Wing. NavAir might "have to go to a more traditional-type engine support, whether that’s with a government depot or something through Rolls Royce," or even "go find a new motor."

A Rolls officials said the company and NavAir have just started "to consider the options for a long-term support strategy for the engines...We’re confident that an element of power-by-the-hour is the best way to support the program."

A year-old agreement calls on NavAir to reconsider the engine sustainment contract. "I don’t believe the power-by-the-hour case can be supported much longer," Mulhern said. NavAir is prepared to turn to other engine makers, he added, though the plan at the moment is to sign another two-year "bridge" contract with Rolls.

The AE1107Cs are performing well in Marine and Air Force V-22s in the United States and Iraq as well, Mulhern said. But "the engines aren’t lasting as long as we would like."

Under the 1998 contract, Rolls agreed to deliver specific amounts of power per flight hour, refurbishing engines as needed. It has been unable to do that as cheaply as it expected because its estimates component lives, particularly for compressors, have been "a little off," Mulhern said.

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