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FARNBOROUGH — Warren East, chief executive of Rolls-Royce, raised the prospect that if rival Pratt & Whitney is spun-off from parent Raytheon Technologies, it had the potential to shift how the company viewed renewed collaboration with the U.S. commercial and military engine maker.

Asked about the implications of a hypothetical move by Raytheon to exit Pratt from under the wing of the newly-consolidated aerospace and defense giant, East plainly said, “Well, it might” change the conversation around its dealings with the propulsion provider. East’s comments came during a wide-ranging interview with The Air Current at the Farnborough International Airshow. 

Related: Harvest & hybrids await engine makers for the next decade

The discussion by East has tectonic implications for the industry as both Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce navigate a mid-pandemic world where near-term industrialization of huge investments in technology and long-term decarbonization are setting the stage for the next decade.

Following publication, Rolls-Royce clarified that East was characterizing the potential for how a shift in the strategic status of Pratt & Whitney might change how it views cooperation with Rolls-Royce, not the likelihood of the spin-off itself.

Yet, East’s comments provide an important glimpse into how Rolls is thinking about its future and the strategic landscape that may be laid out in front of it should Pratt be given an independent path, a possibility evident in East’s remark.

As part of a line of questioning about the potential for future Rolls-Royce collaboration with Pratt & Whitney to span the range of single-aisle and wide body engines, East said there was an opportunity to cover the market together.

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Jon Ostrower is Editor-in-chief of The Air Current. Prior to launching TAC in June 2018, Ostrower served as Aviation Editor for CNN Worldwide, guiding the network's global coverage of the business and operations of flying. Ostrower joined CNN in 2016 following four and half years at the Wall Street Journal. Based first in Chicago and then in Washington, D.C. he covered Boeing, aviation safety and the business of global aerospace. Before that, Ostrower was editor of the award-winning FlightBlogger for Flightglobal and Flight International Magazine covering the development of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and other new aircraft programs from 2007 to 2012. Ostrower, a Boston native, graduated from The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs with a bachelor's degree in Political Communication. He is based in Seattle.

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