March 7, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Representatives of the four major commercial engine
manufacturers have divergent views of the next round of engine development, either for the Middle of the Market/New Mid-range Airplane (NMA) or New Small Airplanes (NSA) coming in the next decade.
Officials of CFM, GE, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce appeared at the annual ISTAT conference in San Diego yesterday.
PW’s Rick Deurloo, SVP of Sales, Marketing Commercial Engines, had the added task of dealing with the highly-publicized teething issues surrounding its new Geared Turbo Fan engine on the Airbus A320neo.
GE Aviation’s Bill Brown, Commercial Engines Managing Director, said GE and CFM International, in which GE and France’s Safran are joint partners, are completing a decade-long plan to renew their entire engine lines that encompass turbo-props to the giant GE9X being developed for the Boeing 777X.
The industry is already talking about new engines for the NMA and NSA aircraft. Program launch, if it comes, for the NMA is widely believed to be next year for a 2024-25 entry-into-service. Program launch for the NSA is more nebulous, varying from as early as 2020 (for Boeing) to as late as 2023 (for Boeing and Airbus.) EIS would be about seven years later.
Both airplanes depend on new engines, a next generation design that would offer at least 15% and as much as 25% better fuel economy than the LEAP and neo engines now entering service.
Brown, who for many years was assigned to CFM, cautioned that any new design and architecture for the engines depends on the airframe architecture.
Proceeding with a new engine architecture before knowing the airframe “is an ill-conceived idea,” he said. Open rotors and GTF technologies are among those GE and CFM are known to be studying.
Simon Goodson, SVP, Lessor Customers for Rolls-Royce, said all new technologies are being considered. RR openly acknowledged development of the Advance and Ultra Fan engines and continues to look at open rotors.
PW’s Deurloo said he GTF is PW’s path to the future, including large engines.
Deurloo acknowledged PW presented its A320neo customers with “challenges,” a word he used repeatedly because of extended start-times when the GTFs first entered service; combustor and bearing issues; and fan blade problems.
Bombardier is also suffering because of fan blade issues.
Fan blades had quality problems and PW woefully underestimated the supply-side production.
Deurloo said PW is doubling production facilities which will triple the output. The start-up issues were resolved months ago. This leaves the combustor and bearing problems, fixes for which are in process and modifications ready next month.
Fifty-three A320neos and Bombardier CSeries with 13 operators are in service with the GTF, he said.
Others at the ISTAT conference with knowledge of the performance said the CSeries economics are 1%-2% better than expected. The A320neo GTF is also better than expected on fuel burn.
Gael Meheust, the new president and CEO of CFM, noted that the first LEAP engine, the 1A for the Airbus A320neo, entered service only a short time ago. It’s meeting its promise of 15% reduction in fuel burn compared with current generation engines, he said. In fact, on a delivery flight to Air India, Meheust said the flight crew reported lower than expected fuel burn, with the airplane arriving in India with more fuel left than planned.
Utilization is up to 11 flights a day with as little as 25-minute turn-times. More than 300 hours have been flow by Pegasus Airlines, another early LEAP operator.
An Airbus insider told LNC the LEAP-1A is performing well with no significant issues.
The LEAP-1B for the Boeing 737 MAX flew 1,400 hours on the MAX 8 test fleet. Entry into service is slated for the first half of this year, months ahead of schedule, Boeing said earlier in the day.
Meheust said the first flight of the LEAP-1C, for the COMAC C919, is weeks away.
CFM’s biggest challenge now is ramping up production to service the backlog of some 14,000 engines.