British aero enginemaker Rolls-Royce (>> Rolls-Royce Holding PLC) said it was on course to deliver strong growth in 2012 profit as it continues to benefit from airlines' need for more fuel-efficient planes.
Rolls, the world's second-largest maker of aircraft engines behind U.S. group General Electric (>> General Electric Company), said on Friday it had made a good start to the year and reiterated guidance that its civil aerospace unit would deliver strong growth in underlying profit.
"For the full year, the group continues to expect good growth in underlying revenue and underlying profit with cash flow around breakeven as we continue to invest in future growth," Rolls, which makes engines for planemakers Airbus (>> EADS) and Boeing (>> The Boeing Company), said in a statement.
Analysts forecast that 20,000 narrowbody planes will be produced in the next 20 years.
A new joint venture between Rolls and U.S. rival Pratt & Whitney (>> United Technologies Corporation) to develop the next generation of engines for the mid-sized narrowbody aircraft market is expected to be officially formed this year.
The company, whose website says a Rolls-Royce powered aircraft takes off or lands every 2.5 seconds, said its new Trent XWB engine took to the skies on board an Airbus (>> EADS) A380 flying test bed during the quarter.
It also opened a new facility in Singapore which will produce fan blades and assemble and test large commercial jet engines.
Shares in Rolls-Royce, which have risen 16 percent in 2012, closed at 859 pence on Thursday, valuing the company at around 16 billion pounds ($26 billion).
(Reporting by Rhys Jones; editing by Adveith Nair)