Europe's biggest plane maker Airbus and engine manufacturer General Electric are in talks to develop a “next-generation” aircraft, court documents show.
Airbus is seeking engine ideas for a narrow-body jet it is developing and has drawn a proposal for a new geared design from GE, Bloomberg reported, citing a court opinion that has since been sealed.
The court document did not specify if the Airbus jet would be a new model or an upgrade to existing models such as the A320neo or A220 narrow-body jets. It also did not provide details on when GE proposed the new engine, when or whether the plane might come to market, or how advanced the talks were.
“GE Aviation continually reviews opportunities with airframers, including Airbus and Boeing, about engine technologies for the next generation of aircraft. The details of these discussions are confidential,” GE said in an emailed statement.
The Toulouse-based company is building an extra-long range version of its A321neo that will allow airlines to serve long-distance routes with smaller, more fuel-efficient aircraft.
Airbus is also working on developing a hydrogen-powered aircraft as it seeks to bring the world's first emissions-free passenger plane into service by 2035.
Airbus did not reveal the the nature of discussions with GE.
“We are in constant dialogue with our engine makers about the latest state-of-the-art technologies and ongoing innovations,” the company said. “There are many studies. Not all studies see the light of day.”
GE proposed using a geared turbofan system it is developing, which it considered a “technologically preferred design for the next-generation narrow-body market,” the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit wrote in an opinion on December 23.