First Choice Airways, Britain's second-biggest charter airline, delivered a snub to Rolls-Royce yesterday by choosing the US engine maker General Electric to power its new fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets.
The airline, which is owned by the tour operator First Choice Holidays, said it had selected the American-made GEnx engine in preference to Rolls' Trent 1000 for its fleet of six 787 Dreamliners.
This makes First Choice the launch customer for the new General Electric engine. The airline's managing director, Chris Browne, said the GE engine had been selected because of its strong technical reliability, more efficient fuel burn and reduced level of emissions.
Of the 14 airlines which have so far ordered the new Boeing jet, only three have announced an engine supplier. The first two customers for the 787, Japan's All Nippon Airways and Air New Zealand, who between them have ordered 52 aircraft, have chosen the Rolls engine.
A spokeswoman for Rolls shrugged off the disappointment of losing the First Choice order by commenting: "We still have more than 90 per cent of the market at this stage."
The 250-seater 787 jet is being designed so that the Rolls and GE engines are interchangeable. The two engines will have a common physical mounting on the wing and common software links to the rest of the aircraft, meaning that airlines can replace one make with another very easily.
This is designed to appeal to leasing companies because their airline customers very often have a preferred engine supplier depending on whose engines power the rest of the fleet.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies