LNA first heard of the CFM problem during the Aviation Week MRO Americas conference April 9-11 in Atlanta. By last Monday, we learned the details, but unfortunately for us, Aviation Week reported the news on line Tuesday, followed by Bloomberg.
However, LNA’s information includes this item: some LEAP engines are remaining on wing for only 400-500 cycles before damage from the coking requires removing, an engine specialist said.
The engines are designed to remain on wing for 8,000 cycles. This is lower than the 10,000 cycles of the super-reliable CFM-56 that exclusively powers the 737 Classic and NG and a majority of the A320ceo family.
For an airline like Southwest, which flies up to right cycles a day, this means engine removal every 50-62 flights in the extreme cases.
So far, reportedly one 1% of the engines inspected are affected by the coking. But LNA is told the number is much higher.
The LEAP-1B is running about 50C hotter than it should because some cooling lines are becoming blocked with carbon, LNA is told.
The LEAP-1A for Airbus entered service in 2016. The LEAP-1B for Boeing entered service in 2017.
Pratt & Whitney’s problems with the Geared Turbo Fan have been widely reported. The engine entered service on the A320neo in January 2016. Troubles with the end resulted in delayed deliveries and airplane groundings in India, aircraft taken out of service due to unserviceable engines and reliability issues.
PW says the problems are largely over.
Rolls-Royce continues to have issues with the Trent 1000 engine, including the newer Trent 1000 TEN. Development of the UltraFan and Advance engines is slow.
GE’s GEnx still has icing issues, years after introduction on the Boeing 787 and 747-8.
Rolls-Royce already dropped out of the competition for the NMA. The decision was made in December but not announced until Feb. 28. Officials said RR couldn’t meet the Boeing timeline—a target EIS date of 2025. But industry sources said the company remains under pressure by the Trent 1000 issues, which remain a work in progress. A shortage of engineers is also a problem, LNA is told.
This leave Pratt & Whitney and CFM as the remaining contenders for the NMA.
Sources, including those at PW, believe CFM is the favored engine for commercial reasons. The GTF is considered the better performing proposal, but the long and deep relationship between CFM, GE (which owns 50% of CFM) and Boeing means CFM/GE can offer commercial terms to Boeing PW can’t match.
Engine readiness is the key, and here is where Boeing’s EIS target of 2025 falls down.
Sources long have said CFM, PW (and RR when it was in the running) won’t be ready with their engines until 2026-27 at the earliest. One industry official, Air Lease Corp Chairman Steve Udvar-Hazy, directly connected these dates to the challenges faced by the OEMs with their current generation engines.
Now, LNA understands engine readiness is slipping again.
The MAX grounding is virtually certain to delay Boeing’s ATO until there is a date certain when the MAX returns to service. Based on current information, the groundings may last to anywhere between August and November. This would seem to push out Boeing’s target EIS to 2026 at the earliest.
Engines are the driving factor, however. Reality has yet to set in—at least for public consumption. LNA understands Boeing certainly knows the score.