Dec. 3, 2018, © Leeham News: Safran, the French company that is a 50% partner in CFM International, believes Boeing will launch the New Midmarket Airplane next year.
Safran held its investors day last Thursday.
In sideline conversation, one of those attending reports that Safran met recently with Boeing and is convinced the NMA is a “go.”
(Others, elsewhere, remain skeptical.)
Engine company responses for proposals are due this month to Boeing. CFM, Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney are competing for the engine selection.
It’s believed Boeing would like a dual source (certainly airlines do), but in all likelihood, the odds-on favorite is that the NMA will have a sole source engine. The betting is that it will be CFM.
Market sources told LNC last summer that the engine for the NMA grew from around 45,000 lbs to 52,000 lbs of thrust. Even though the agreement between Safran and GE Aviation, the other 50% shareholder in CFM, caps CFM at 50,000 lbs (after which, GE takes over), the companies agreed that in this case, CFM will be the supplier.
Although Wall Street analysts continue to say GE is not convinced of the business case for the NMA, Safran’s CEO, Philippe Petitcolin, said GE is committed to funding the research.
Robert Stallard, the aerospace analyst for Vertical Research, asked about the level of GE’s commitment.
“In my opinion it is for me, yes, without any kind of speculations,” Petitcolin said. “We met with the new CEO of GE two months ago and he confirmed that all the strategy of GE Aviation would be pursued, including, of course, as I said a bit earlier, the JV they enjoyed with Safran.
“So, in my opinion there is absolutely no difference, no change in the way GE is forecasting or foreseeing the future in terms of new development. I’m totally convinced and I will say it because, as you know we are in this process of IFE with Boeing even if the NMA is not yet launched, the IFE process is going on and we saw absolutely no change in the way GE is looking at this program and the aggressivity they put in the financial aspect of the program. So, of course our hope is going to continue, but I do not see why it would not.”
Program launch is widely expected by observers to be at the Paris Air Show next June.
Boeing, as always, says any time someone asks, that studies continue.
In the meantime, Airbus is talking openly about the prospect of an A321XLR with as much as 4,700 miles of range. Officials claim the A330-800 is the answer for the top end of the market.
Guillaume Faury, the Airbus Commercial CEO and designated heir to succeed Tom Enders as CEO of Airbus Group, says information about the A321XLR will be forthcoming next year. Observers take this as a hint this airplane will be launched.
The chess game continues.