Viewers of our interview with Aerion at the recent NBAA will note that nothing was mentioned about engine selection. Earlier versions of the aircraft were looking at Pratt & Whitney JT8s. But with Airbus now involved with Aerion, the turn to Rolls-Royce is not a great surprise.
The interesting aspect of engine selection for this aircraft is that it needs low bypass engines. All other aircraft benefit from high bypass. Since the Aerion plans to fly over Mach 1, big engines will not work effectively. It needs narrow, low bypass, engines with minimal drag. This almost certainly points to military engines.
It is not clear just how much thrust the Aerion needs. It is to have three engines. Interest in a Rolls-Royce solution seems to point to the EJ200 as used in the Eurofighter Typhoon. That engine generates 13,000 pounds of thrust (20,000 on afterburner). Pratt’s F100 as used in the F15 and F16 is not going to be shared with any non-military customer and would probably require US government approval. Besides the engine is larger and offers a lot more thrust. The same goes the competing GE 404 in terms of non-military customers, bit it is closer to the EJ200 in power. Aerion, and Airbus, are, in our view, unlikely to look to Russia for power. The only other option would be the SNECMA M88, which comes at 11,250 pounds of thrust (16,000 with afterburner).
Fortunately for Aerion they have a choice: EJ200 or M88. Airbus’ influence might lean to Rolls-Royce. But don’t count out the M88. The engine selection process will be very interesting.