Countdown to decision on Boeing’s NMA, Part 3: Engine selection

By Dan Catchpole Subscription Required
Introduction
January 21 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing number crunchers are feverishly working through engine bids from Rolls-Royce, Pratt & Whitney and CFM International, the partnership of Safran and General Electric (GE), the three competitors vying to power Boeing’s New Midmarket Airplane (NMA). Boeing is expected to ask for a best and final offer by the end of January, with engine selection planned in February. That gives Boeing enough time to get authority to offer from the board of directors, likely in March or April, and to launch the NMA (likely as the 797) at the Paris Air Show in June. Boeing faces big challenges in closing the business case, though. The process has slogged on far longer than company leaders had expected. Even so, Boeing executives’ relentless optimism about the NMA business case stands in sharp contrast to the skepticism of many industry insiders. At least two of the engine makers, for example, think market demand is about half of Boeing’s public forecast. Each of the three engine makers vying to get on the NMA have some significant liability. The industry insiders and analysts interviewed for this article say is the decision really comes down to Pratt and CFM. Given the pressures on NMA business case, many see a scaled-up CFM Leap as the front runner. It offers the least risk, even if it also has the least upside.
Summary:
  • CFM: The LEAP has performed well since going into service, but GE’s financial troubles could weigh down its bid.
  • Pratt & Whitney: PW’s GTF is a great fit for NMA requirements, but the engine maker has a full plate with the GTF on five new airplane programs.
  • Rolls-Royce: The NMA would be an opportunity to launch Rolls’ UltraFan, but does Boeing want to bet on a completely new engine?

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