(Bloomberg) -- Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc said it’s holding discussions with Boeing Co. about a new aircraft program, confirming reports dating back to last year linking the U.K. engine-maker to a potential mid-range jetliner.
The dialogue is different than it was several years ago, when Rolls-Royce ultimately pulled out of the running to supply Boeing’s then-planned mid-range plane, Rolls Chief Executive Officer Warren East said at the company’s annual meeting on Thursday. At the time, the U.K. company decided its UltraFan engine in development wouldn’t be ready in time for a plane targeted for the middle of this decade.
Boeing ultimately put the plans on hold as it was forced to focus on resolving the crisis that followed two crashes of its 737 Max narrow-body. Bloomberg reported last year that Rolls had expressed interest in a new, midrange jetliner if the U.S. planemaker decides to go ahead with one.
Rolls has also said it’s talked with Boeing rival Airbus SE about a possible new program.
East said the UltraFan program is more advanced now. The company is keeping an open mind, he said, adding that the engine might not be suitable for a smaller design.
Boeing reached out to suppliers about a new single-aisle airplane that would seat between 200 and 250 travelers, the Wall Street Journal reported last year.
That would put Boeing’s new program, should it go forward, up against the A321 variant of Airbus’s popular A320-series single-aisle jets. Airbus said this week that the larger version now accounts for more than half its backlog in the family.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.