Rolls-Royce seeks short-haul return on Boeing’s planned 797

Rolls will bid to power a new Boeing short-haul jetliner as the U.K. engine maker seeks to re-enter a market it quit in 2011.

Rolls-Royce Holdings will bid to power a new short-haul jetliner being designed by Boeing as the U.K. engine maker seeks to re-enter a market it quit in 2011.

Rolls is preparing a pitch to Boeing as the U.S. manufacturer works on the business case for a so-called middle-of-market plane, Chief Executive Officer Warren East said in comments after the company’s annual general meeting.

“The answer is that we are pursuing it,” East said Thursday at the shareholder gathering near its main manufacturing site in Derby, England. “It’s not ‘will we be pursuing it.’ We are pursuing it.” The engine would be available by 2025, when the Boeing jet is slated to enter service, he said.

Rolls has been mulling ways of getting back into the market for powering short-haul jets, with the Boeing project presenting it with an opportunity to do so several years before the likely replacement of the existing 737 and Airbus SE A321 single-aisle models.

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While the European engine maker has grabbed a major slice of the lucrative long-haul engine sector with its Trent engine series and is also a supplier to regional and corporate planes, short-haul jets represent the backbone of the airline industry, with sales dwarfing those for bigger models.

The engine being designed for the Boeing jet draws on the two main technology programs underway at Rolls-Royce, Paul Stein, the company’s chief technology officer, told reporters at the annual meeting. Those are the Advance engine core due to be built by 2020, and the UltraFan design featuring a new “power gearbox” and targeting a 25 percent efficiency improvement over current Rolls models.

It’s not yet clear whether Rolls-Royce will pursue the project with a partner, though the company is open to doing so…

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