Odds and Ends: SPEEA says strike is likely; CFM LEAP update

SPEEA v Boeing: The Seattle Times reported that there is a very high chance of a strike by SPEEA against Boeing come February. This is, of course, bad news for all concerned.

SPEEA is already talking about a 60 day strike and says this would cost Boeing $400m a day. In 2000, when SPEEA struck for 60 days, Boeing deivered 50 fewer aircraft for the year. IAM 751’s 57 day strike in 2009 depressed sales and cost Boeing billions (though nothing like the $400m SPEEA forecasts, which is a puzzle).

Customers, who were ticked off by the IAM strike, will once again be the innocent bystanders in this potential strike. A strike will also redouble Boeing’s drive to diversify to non-union states, though hopefully this time it won’t be so stupid as to connect the dots again as it did with the 751. It’s our belief Boeing can’t fulfill the demand for engineers in Washington State anyway so it has to locate work elsewhere. Although as a Washington State resident we don’t want to see this happen, this is, we believe, reality.

SPEEA has the power to truly disrupt things at Boeing, not only for deliveries but also for future engineering projects, but nobody will win and everybody will lose if Boeing and SPEEA don’t reach an agreement.

CFM LEAP Update: The Seattle Times also has this update on the CFM LEAP-1B, the version for the Boeing 737 MAX.

Noteworthy in the article is the revelation of the contractual commitment for CFM to reduce fuel burn for the LEAP-1B by 15% compared with today’s 737 CFM engine. This is a key piece of information and well beyond the Airbus assumption in the continuing war of words between the two companies.

It also is key to Boeing’s previously advertised target of the 737 MAX being 13% better than today’s 737NG. What strikes us, however, is whether 13% is still an operative figure.

All other things being equal, installation typically costs 1%-2%, which means the MAX on engine installation alone should be 13%-14% better than the NG. We know that Boeing is working hard on airframe improvements. Shouldn’t the 13% actually be better? We know the advanced winglets are supposed to add 1.5% to fuel reduction, for example. Boeing has also cleaned up the tailcone and undertaken other aerodynamic improvements.

We’ve asked Boeing and will post its response when received.

Update, 2pm PST: We have an answer of sorts from Boeing, though we’ve asked for further clarification.

“CFM’s number is in SFC or specific fuel consumption for a given thrust which when you apply it to a specific mission gives you the fuel-burn reduction for that trip. The attached shows a 500-nmi trip comparison which gives the MAX engine 14% fuel-burn reduction compared to the NG engine, next we factor in engine integration and aero improvements ending up with a total 13% reduction for a 500-nmi trip compared to the NG).

“You will see in the chart that we credit the AT winglet with approximately 1 percent improvement (again this is at a 500-nmi trip). However, at longer ranges customers will experience even more improvement from the AT winglets, up to 1.5%.”


This chart (click to enlarge) is extracted from Boeing’s Farnborough presentation. It starts with a 14% improvement for the engine, while the news article says 15% is required in the CFM contract. The Boeing spokesperson said this is for a 500nm mission at a “specific thrust” level. We’re trying to clarify the difference between the 15% contract number and the 14% above. If we get this clarity, we’ll update again.

Update, 545pm PST: Here’s the final answer from Boeing:

“CFM’s number is in pure SFC and our numbers are in fuel-burn per trip so they are not equivalent. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. In our case – we are using a 500-nmi trip which is our standard comparison. This includes then in our calculations the fuel-burn cost of lifting the airplane empty weight off the ground since takeoff is part of the trip. CFM’s number is an engine in a test stand compared to another engine in a test stand so the two comparisons are not equivalent.”


Not revealed in the article but we learned that there will be a thrust bump for the LEAP engine. Right now CFM lists on its website the LEAP-1B thrust at a maximum of 28,000 lbs, the same as the current engine. Because of the higher weights for the MAX, runway performance has been assessed as poorer than the NG by customers we’ve talked with. A thrust bump, and airframe improvements, are aimed at fixing this issue, we’re told.

52 Comments on “Odds and Ends: SPEEA says strike is likely; CFM LEAP update

  1. It would be VERY helpful if the press would quit referring to Mr Goforth as the ” head” or “leader” of SPEEA. He is simply the SPEEA Staff Office Manager. He is NOT elected. He has NO or very limited signature authority. He has NOT been elected or assigned as a Spokesperson for SPEEA or the Negotiation Team. He has NO inherent or documented right to even sit in as an Observer during Negotiations or to sign any contracts.

    From the SPEEA Constitution which can be downloaded from the SPEEA site


    8.5.3. SPEEA Staff
    The Executive Board will have exclusive authority over SPEEA employees and shall set personnel policies for the entire staff of SPEEA. The Executive Board actions taken relative to the staff shall not be subject to Council overturn.
    The Executive Board is authorized to hire and remove an Executive Director. The Executive Director shall manage the SPEEA Staff.
    The President, with Executive Board concurrence, may designate himself or another member of the Board to serve SPEEA as a full-time staff employee for no more than thirty days each year and while on leave of absence from the employer, will maintain Regular Membership status.
    The Executive Board may delegate to the Executive Director, or another staff person, the necessary authority to administer such affairs of SPEEA as the Board sees fit, but under no circumstances shall the Executive Board delegate all or any part of its administrative authority or policy-making functions.

    Thank you !

    • I suppose we ought to have given him a less impressive title than “executive director” then. Certainly sounds like a leader, and the press releases come from him. Maybe we ought to get someone else to perform that role if Goforth has overstepped.

    • The 2000 strike lasted 42 days, not 60.

      It not only shut down production but also affected significant portions of all engineering and technicians’ support for Boeing’s many customer service operations:
      – retrofit kit design
      – service bulletin preparation and approval
      – airplane-on-ground [AOG] engineering
      – preparation of and revisions to airplane operating documents including Ops Manuals, Maint Manuals, Wiring Diagrams, Flight Manuals, functional test documents etc etc
      – field service support

      Design work was thrown out of sync for a long time afterwards as engineering releases had to be rescheduled and resequenced.

  2. Maybe Boeing is including maintenance in the operating cost per seat, instead of strictly talking about fuel burn per seat.

  3. So far I assumed the LEAP having a 7% better core and 0.5% better sfc per additional inch of fan. For the LEAP-B around 7+4.4 so around 11-12%.

    I’ll stick with that until facts prevail over hope..

    • I’m not sure I’d call a contractual requirement “hope”. And the people at CFM aren’t exactly dumb and I’m guessing know their engine and what it can do pretty well. Early versions (like the 787 engines) may well miss spec but if history has shown us anything that problem is likely to be rectified quickly.

      But since you don’t buy CFM’s or Boeing’s data and have offered numbers of your own I’m curious what’s your background and what is the basis of your numbers?

      • Trent1000 and GEnX projects will have consumed another 4..5 years to reach 2008 targets. ( and improvements seem to not significanlty exceed the .5%/a gains assigned to maintainance improvements.)
        Trent XWB is said to be “about there”.
        That is quite a contrast in reality conforming to expectations.
        What do we see here? sales/procurement departments went overboard in the Dreamliner case ?

        ( I have no current involvement in aeroegnines )

  4. WCOG :
    I suppose we ought to have given him a less impressive title than “executive director” then. Certainly sounds like a leader, and the press releases come from him. Maybe we ought to get someone else to perform that role if Goforth has overstepped.

    RE Title of Executive Director at SPEEA

    A detailed discussion is out of scope in this thread, but I will provide a thumbnail

    IF any member is interested, they should contact the Governing Documents Committee and request a review with the aim of changing the title to more accurately define the Office Manager and Eliminate the title of ED completely.

    1) Most unions do NOT have a position of Executive Director
    2) Most non profit corporations do use the term for different reasons
    3) The title of ED has been routinely abused for decades at SPEEA whether thru apathy, incompetence, or simply not paying attention to the federal rules.
    Most of the E-boards over several decades never saw the 990 before or after it was filed. The previous legal staff refused to provide a 990 at my request- it took a letter to the IRS to correct that.
    For decades, (until about 2004), the ED signed form 990. Per the IRS, unless there was specific authority granted in the Gov Docs, that was a major NO – NO

    I was instrumental in getting that fiasco changed- resolved , so now it is SPEEA policy that the Pres or Treasurer sign 990. There was major pushback when the issue was brought up- I’ve got the scars and t-shirt ;-PP

    There are a lot more issues directly related to the ongoing abuse of the title.

    But this is enough for now – apathy, incompetence, and ignorance still reign.


    • Although the commentary over Goforth’s title doesn’t cross the line in our Reader Comment rules, I’m not sure it contributes to the issues at hand. I won’t put a stop to it, but I do think y’all ought to move on.


  5. Before usual suspects get too excited 😉 – the commitment is for the LEAP both for the NEO and the MAX. So the only ones to be worried (maybe) should be P&W and their clients on the NEO.

    Side-bar question, I noted the much higher compression ratio. What would this do if it were applied in a gas-turbine for power generation? At present the maximum efficiency that can be attained in a combined-cycle plant is 61 or 62%. Would doubling the compression ratio increase this noticeably?

  6. Looking at the ideal cycle for a gas turbine (Brayton), one can see two isentropic processes (compression and expansion, in compressor and turbine, respectively) and two isobaric processes (i.e. thermodynamic processes that take place at constant pressure). The latter two are the heat exchange, which in the ordinary aero engine is combustion and gas intake/exhaust (i.e. heat pick-up and release).

    Now, the efficiency of this ideal cycle is: eta = 1 – pr^(gamma-1)/gamma, where pr is the pressure ratio and gamma is the heat capacity ratio. For air it is ~1.4.

    This is the highest efficiency that any cycle using air at pressure ratio pr can attain. Do not confuse this with the efficiency of the _actual_ cycle, this will be lower.

    There is obviously more to it than this, but it gives you an idea. Looking at non-ideal processes gives you a more complex expression for eta, e.g. T3 (turbine inlet temp) also influences, as do component efficiencies, especially the compressor efficiencies.

    Hope this helps some…

  7. Addendum: I would not look at combined cycle plants when discussing aero engines. They are not very similar. And what two cycles are you thinking of combining, Rankine + Brayton?

  8. If Leeham would indulge me?

    Mneja – many thanks. You have lost me there I am afraid, I am not an engineer. I understand the first CCGTs were using a lot of aero engine tech (and I understand the Rolls Royce OCGT 50MW product is also based on an aero engine?), and hence my question on whether (if an aeroderivative were produced from the LEAP and/or the materials/tech were applied to larger powergen turbines) this technology could have a meaningful impact on OCGT/CCGT efficiency?



  9. Oh, I see what you are getting at. Sure, improvements in aero-engines can be transferred to stationary power generating turbines. See GE’s line of LM turbines for example: LM2500, LM6000 and the LMS100 hybrid (hybrid as in about half aero-derivative and half purpose designed for stationary use).

    I am not wrong I think RR still markets a variant of the venerable Avon as a stationary turbine for off-shore? use.

    However, aero-engines tend to use some very expensive solutions because they have design limitations stationary turbines do not have. Weight for example…

  10. I walked for 40 days and 40 nights in 2000. I won’t do that again, and a good number of my peers from that era feel the same. Raise pools of 4 – 4.5% look pretty good in a historical context. The SPEEA ask of 6% or more sounds like greed in this economic climate. Health care cost sharing is going up. Welcome to the new reality.

    I’m no fan of Boeing leadership, then or now, but this is nothing like the environment in 2000. Mr. Goforth seems unnecessarily agitated. Loosen your panties Ray.

  11. Both engines are guaranteed to be 15% more fuel efficient than current models. If I were Airbus, I would be either mightlily embarassed or very upset. Can you just imagine the scene?
    Look! We have an engine with a much larger diameter than Boeing’s (which also weighs more than Boeing’s) and we still only get the same 15% fuel burn improvement that Boeing gets!
    Am I the only one here who thinks something doesn’t make sense?

    • I think Airbus should demand to get that 69 inch version with flattened cowling and relocated assesoires. It’s lighter! Joe explained everything in a previous post. There might even be opportunities for the MAX to further reduce the engine weight/size and shorten the nose landing gear..

      • You think it is like a rucksack? the right CG makes it much “lighter” ?
        Sadly the current CFM56 -5 and -7 incarnations have about the same weight. GEnX -1B and -2B show 10% difference.
        I don’t see big promises ahead in that direction.

        percents, percents, percents:
        Like inflation it is a moving target.
        What is the going rate in incremental engine improvements? 0.5%/a ?
        When Trent1000 and GenX reach design sfc sometime in 2013/14 they are still ~2.5% behind the curve of expectations.
        2 years later EIS ( NEO/MAX ) represents 1% “inflation”.

  12. It is clear that Boeing statements made about the MAX were based on solid understanding of what they are doing but Airbus people made fun of that and potrayed Boeing as clueless.

    Now if CFM commits itselft to 15% improvement for both the Leap1A and Leap1B, the simple question that follows is : What is then the advantage of the bigger fan of Leap1A? Airbus has been using the fan size to brag about the Neo advantage over the Max.

    Secondly, if the Neo has to achieve a net 15% fuel burn advantage over today Ceo, that means the Leap1A engine must offer a higher SFC (say min 19%) so that when the drag, integration and weight are taken into account, one is left with a net 15%.

    Now as far as I know, PW1100G has a 15% better SFC (i.e PW1100G in a test stand compared to current CFM in a test stand). So Airbus claims that the Neo will offer to airlines 15% better fuel consumptions seem bizzare to me.
    I know airbus claims that the effect of drag, integration and weight will be around -3% which will be cancelled out by the shaklet wich offer +3% and thus maintaining a net 15% as Fuel-burn per trip (FBPT).
    It looks like the arogant french intend to fool those who don’t understand the difference between SFC and Fuel-burn per trip (FBPT).

    • IMU 15% gains in respect to the currently hung engine:
      NEO: 15% improvement over the CMF56-5Bx
      MAX: 15% improvement over the CFM56-7Bx

  13. Maybe the current CFM56 engines can be taken as a reference.

    CFM56-5B6/P, 23,500 lbs and CFM56-7B24, 24,000 lbs.

    The -5B has a bigger fan and significantly better sfc, while the weight has hardly grown.
    I would expect similar differences between the Leap1A and -1B.

    • The data in the provided link is not current. You would need to compare any A320 engine to the CFM56-7BE in order to be relevant. You also need to make the comparison at representative network thrust levels, not max rated installed thrust. In the case of your selected comparison point, neither the 737-700 or the A319 typically operate at the full rated thrust of 24k and 23.5k, repectively. Derates will often exceed 20% for the A319 and 30% for the 737-700, which is 5000 lbs lighter than the A319 and has more wing. Whan you look at actual mission thrust, CFM says the SFC difference between the engines is 1%.

  14. Uwe :
    see: http://leehamnews.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/737-max-vs-a320-neo-the-debate-continues/#comment-17021
    noteworthy commentary in the 2 followups.

    Keesje’s link actually addresses this.

    1) CFM for 737NG sfc 0.370 to 0.380 (there is a 0.360 for the 737-600/737-700, but given sales of these two models for the MAX it can be ignored). After 15% improvement sfc 0.315 to 0.323
    2) CFM for A32x sfc 0.320 to 0.360. After 15% improvement 0.272 to 0.306

    Isn’t relativity marvellous?

    • “Isn’t relativity marvellous?”
      during propagation rumors accelerate to light speed first and then gain more mass 😉

  15. Le bon vivant :
    What is then the advantage of the bigger fan of Leap1A? Airbus has been using the fan size to brag about the Neo advantage over the Max.

    The advantage is between .043 and .017 lb/h in fuel burn, or between 5.3% to 13.7% lower than the Boeing LEAP1B. What this does to trip fuel burn is another question.

    • I take it they raise the exit capacity for a pair of doors from 55 to 59. How do they do that?

      • 757-200 has a 239 exit limit with 4(x2) doors 3 B + 1 III ?.
        A321 has 4 (x2) doors 2 B and 2 III?
        if Airbus has to “think” about it they will have to change door types ;-? one Type III to 1 Type B ?

  16. Keesje,

    you are quite correct. The PW1000 core is more conservatively designed in terms of temperatures etc. They had some challenges at some off-design points, where the geared lay-out gives some effects that were not foreseen in early development, but I believe that they are solved now (if implemented or not I would not know).

    Whatever CFM come up with can be applied to the PW1000 (GTF) core. Obviously, if PW has access to the technology. Some of it will not where GE/Snecma has the tech edge. In other cases PW has similiar technology which can be used.

    Based on history, GE has been the best with new materials (read: high temp capability), so PW can maybe not do 100% of what GE does to the LEAP core. But be sure to expect that they can improve the core significantly over time, they for sure have considerably more opportunities than CFM to do this…

  17. On the contractual obligation, it is quite possible I guess that Boeing and CFM have a contract stipulating one thing, and Boeing only being willing to promise a part of that thing to its clients in turn. Reason could be that they want to have some room for CFM missing the target.

  18. “Thrust bump for the LEAP-1B” beyond 28,000 lbs…makes you wonder how that is supposed to go allong with the ‘optimized’ core and the claimed 25% lower engine DMC than the NEO/LEAP combination.
    What we see now is the result of ‘reconfirming commitments’ for 1,000+ MAXs before firm concept! Looks like – again – sales bit off more than engineering can chew.

    • Well… that happens every so often… I do not know how many times I have heard that happened, just in the engine programs I worked.

    • I’m not sure I follow your logic. MAX firm orders are over 960 units, not counting Iceland Air, which announced but has not yet firmed. Even if Boeing firms no more orders this year, 960+ seems pretty credible.

      • Whatever the firmness of these orders:
        The question is how firm is the article that has been ordered.

      • I understand you are asking that question. Clearly, the marketplace does not share this concern. The airlines are the ones getting briefed on the product, so it’s not hard to figure out whose opinion is based on data and whose opinion is based on… ?

  19. CM :
    I understand you are asking that question. Clearly, the marketplace does not share this concern. The airlines are the ones getting briefed on the product, so it’s not hard to figure out whose opinion is based on data and whose opinion is based on… ?

    The marketplace ordered 900 787s based on the data it had (and some pretty good pricing). But leaving that aside, you do not really want to claim that AA was in full position of the facts of what they ordered when they ordered the MAX? I would agree with you that later customers have a better idea, but the early ones signed up to a fairly ill-defined product (presumably on the basis of steep discounts for launch customers, so there’s nothing wrong with that).

    • Your argument is a red herring on all fronts.

      The American orders are not firmed and not counted in the 969 firm units.

      Re. The 787: When you buy early into an all new product which has never flown, you accept guarantees with a large tolerance from nominal performance. If you buy in later, you get less advantageous pricing, but you receive guarantees which reflect an increased understanding of the product. If ANA and JAL are unhappy with the pricing or the performance of the aircraft they have received, it’s news to me. All indications are they are extremely pleased with their aircraft.

      The notion that somehow 1000 MAX orders is meaningless or was a sleight of hand by Boeing is nothing more than childish whining from the Airbus fanboys. Man up and congratulate Boeing for Bouncing back after getting trounced by the A320neo last year.

      • My bad on AA, I thought they had been firmed, thanks for the correction.

        CM :

        Re. The 787: When you buy early into an all new product which has never flown, you accept guarantees with a large tolerance from nominal performance. If you buy in later, you get less advantageous pricing, but you receive guarantees which reflect an increased understanding of the product.

        That’s all I am saying. The same surely applies to the MAX. So to use the number of orders as an argument to validate data is the real red herring here. Some customers will have had good data, others a good promise. None has certainty (neither on NEO nor on MAX).

        CMThe notion that somehow 1000 MAX orders is meaningless or was a sleight of hand by Boeing is nothing more than childish whining from the Airbus fanboys. Man up and congratulate Boeing for Bouncing back after getting trounced by the A320neo last year.

        So much anger. I am actually quite impressed by Boeing’s ability to pull back from this brink. It’s not normal for senior managers to admit so openly and quickly that they got it wrong, and I think the criticism thrown at them for flip-flopping or not being able to have a fully defined product at that point in time is very unfair.

      • I don’t think any Dreamliner customer signed for 3++ years of delays.
        Boeing customers seem to be pampered in an environment
        of “wineing and dining” and guiding strategic communications ( less refined people would mention the word lies ) .

        Now other posters did not imply meaninglessness but
        that these orders do not provide firmness to a certain product.

        We also see talk about an(-other) aircraft bubble.

      • Prevailing “wisdom” on Leeham: Boeing is selling a vapor-ware airplane without any clearly defined configuration or performance. Airlines can’t see through the lies because Boeing is wining and dining them, then offering such steep discounts they are somehow mesmerized into signing for a 1960’s aircraft, somehow believing it is new.

        Did you really just ask what makes me angry?

  20. CM :
    Did you really just ask what makes me angry?

    No I didn’t. I observed that there was a lot of anger.

    The MAX started out with less specification (I believe) then the NEO, and this is still the case to some extent (reflecting that they are well behind in the development curve). That they can still sell it is i) testament to the high quality of the product it is derived from, which generates trust, and ii) to some (probably minor) extent a function of availability of the NEO, but this is temporary – i.e. once both planes are at a similar stage of definition, I would expect the situation to revert to what we see now, a duopoly with roughly even shares over time.

    • The steady stream of misinformation coming from Germany makes me wonder if the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda isn’t still alive and doing well there. It’s hard for me not to get frustrated with it. Regardless, I’ll try to vent my frustration on more appropriate targets. Sorry, Andeas.

  21. CM :
    Did you really just ask what makes me angry?

    This is similar to the (right wing ) election campaigns just gone by
    in the US.
    First one selects the most inflamatory interpretation possible,
    then the anger machine is rewed up.

    Seeing and accepting more grey levels would reduce your
    anger significantly.

    • You’ve been abundantly clear with your meanings. Don’t ask me to temper my understanding or my responses when you feed a steady stream of crystal clear misinformation here.

  22. On the matter of NEO vs. MAX, Pegasus (an LCC from Turkey owned by ESAS holding) has just announced that they ordered 70+20 NEOs, delivery from 2016 (to be signed on 15 Dec). They currently fly 40 738 and 2 734. Quite a bit of expansion, as befits a Turkish carrier, given the rapid growth of the country. Airbus must be well pleased to have switched an all-Boeing client (although its subsidiary IzAir is flying 2 838, 2 A319, and 1 A320).

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