Blow to Rolls as Boeing picks US rival

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ROLLS-ROYCE was dealt a blow yesterday after Boeing announced that the new long-range version of its 777 jet would be powered by the rival US engine company General Electric.

Boeing said that it had selected the GE90 engine for its 777-200X and 300X aircraft in preference to the Rolls Trent engine. The agreement makes GE the exclusive supplier on the new jet. Boeing hopes to build as many as 500 of the 777X.

Rolls shares slid 9.75p to 267.25p - a fall of 3.5 per cent - as analysts interpreted the decision as a setback to Rolls after it had done so well on the original 777 programme.

However, Rolls sought to play down the significance of the decision, saying its long-term strategy would not be affected by Boeing's move.

Rolls has won 45 per cent of all engine orders for the 777 since the aircraft was launched. The Trent has also secured a near 40 per cent share of engine orders for the rival wide-bodied Airbus Industrie jet, the A330.

In addition, Rolls has secured $5bn worth of engine orders since the Trent 500 was exclusively selected to power the long range Airbus A340- 500/600 series.

GE said the 777X win was one of the most significant in its history. It had reportedly offered to finance the development of the new jet if its engine was selected.

John Cheffins, managing director of Rolls' airline division, said it had required exclusivity to make an acceptable business case for developing the Trent 8115 to power the new Boeing. "We remain committed to supporting the 777 programme," he added.