Update: AirInsight has a couple of posts assessing the impact of NEO.
Bloomberg News just moved this story:
Airbus Said to Plan New A320 Engine Option to Fend Off Rivals
2010-11-30 20:50:43.24 GMT
By Andrea Rothman
Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) — Airbus SAS plans to offer its A320 series of aircraft with an option of more fuel-efficient engines to help defend its position in the single-aisle jet market, said a person familiar with the decision.
The company received backing from parent European Aeronautic, Defense & Space Co. at a meeting today and may announce the decision as early as tomorrow, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan has not yet been made public. Airbus, based in Toulouse, France, would offer the A320 with two new engine options, the person said.
Airbus is seeking to extend the lifespan of its best- selling model before it starts working on an all-new single- aisle aircraft, as companies from Canada and China start crowding into the segment and Boeing Co. considers an upgrade of its 737 model. The A320 entered service in 1988, and Airbus has said a new model is unlikely before the middle of next decade.
The new engine option would let airlines order A320s and related variants either with the new power plants, picking between Pratt & Whitney or the CFM International joint venture owned by General Electric Co. and Safran SA, or stick with existing engines that have powered the A320 since its creation.
Return of Pratt
Both the A320 and 737 are twin-engine models that seat about 125 to 185 people. List prices for each plane range from about $65 million to $95 million, depending on the version.
The two new engines will be the geared-turbofan engine developed by United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney, or the Leap-X engine being created by CFM International. Bombardier Inc., which is developing its C-Series aircraft, also plans to use the Pratt geared-turbofan engine.
The selection of Pratt & Whitney’s would mark the company’s return as a solo engine maker to the biggest slice of the commercial airplane market and a victory for United Technologies Chief Executive Louis Chenevert, who spent more than a decade championing the program. GE and Safran already dominate the narrow-body engine market with the CFM engine, which is the sole choice on the Boeing 737.
Airbus had weighed the decision of new engines for more than a year. The company considered the risk of committing additional engineers that may be needed on the A350, a new wide- body model Airbus is developing for entry into service by the end of 2013.
Boeing, too, has considered new engines on its 737 series The step would be more challenging for the U.S. manufacturer because the aircraft already sits so close to the ground that the landing gear would need to be redesigned to allow clearance for the newer, bigger engines. Chicago-based Boeing plans to make a firm decision by early 2011, while saying it prefers to focus on developing a new narrow-body aircraft.