Pontifications: “The need for radical fuel improvements will only increase over time.”

By Scott Hamilton

May 30, 2023, © Leeham News: “The need for radical fuel improvements will only increase over time.”

That’s the definitive conclusion of Arjan Hegeman, GE Aerospace’s general manager of advanced technology.

GE is working on Performance Improvement Packages (PIPs) of its current engine lineup used on Airbus and Boeing airliners. It’s also developing the GE9X, now in testing on the Boeing 777X, and concepts of a hybrid-electric and hydrogen-fueled engine.

But the big bet is on the Open Fan “RISE” (Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines). “The Open Fan technology—it’s a go,” Hegeman declared earlier this month at a press briefing in advance of the Paris Air Show next month.

CFM RISE Open Fan engine. Credit: CFM.

The Open Fan is an evolution of the Open Rotor engine tested in the 1980s. The concept shows a dramatic reduction in fuel consumption compared with the engines of the day. But the counter-rotating rotor design was very noisy. Coupled with other technical challenges and a sudden drop in fuel prices, GE (and rival Pratt & Whitney) dropped the concepts.

But research and development continued. Today, PW thinks its Geared Turbo Fan engine will suffice for the future. Rolls-Royce is also pursuing traditional engine designs. But GE believes the problems of the Open Rotor have been solved for the Open Fan.


It comes down to supercomputing, said Mohamed Ali, GE Aerospace vice president of engineering.

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Pontifications: Selling engines for profit, not as loss leaders

By Scott Hamilton

May 9, 2023, © Leeham News: Last week, I provided an overarching view of the business model the engine makers used for decades to sell their engines and services to the airlines and leasing companies. Today, we discuss this in more detail and move to other issues facing engine makers as well.

Aviation Week’s MRO Americas last month was the venue for the engine panel.

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The panelists include two from the manufacturers, Becky Johnson, I’m the Director of Marketing for CFM commercial programs at GE Aerospace, and Sam Raby, who is Associate Director at Pratt & Whitney for aftermarket marketing and strategy. Two other panelists were from the MRO sector: Russ Shelton, president of GA Telesis Engine Services, and Sebastian Torhorst, Head of Sales for Energy Services for the Americas for Lufthansa Technik.

As LNA wrote last week, the business model relies on selling engines at a steep, steep discount—sometimes up to 80%, and in rare instances, the engine maker gave (as in free) engines to customers. In either case, the quid pro quo was to enter into long-term service contracts for parts and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO). Deeply discounted sales meant it could take 10-15 years for the engine makers to recover development costs.

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GTF’s troubled history hurting future orders

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By Scott Hamilton and Bjorn Fehrm

May 8, 2023, © Leeham News: India’s GoFirst Airlines filed for bankruptcy last week. The carrier pointed to around 29 of its 50 Pratt & Whitney Geared TurboFan-powered Airbus A320neos being grounded as the reason.

The aircraft have been grounded for months. Despite negotiations with PW and a favorable arbitration ruling, GoFirst says PW failed to provide replacement engines. As a result, GoFirst paid about $196m in lease rates for the grounded aircraft, without being able to fly them for revenue.

Lufthansa Group last week complained that a third of its Swiss Airbus A220 fleet, also powered by the GTF, are likewise grounded with technical issues. As LNA previously reported, Air Baltic, Egyptair and Air Senegal also have A220s grounded. Iraqi Airlines has some A220s that are grounded. And now there’s news that Embraer E195-E2s at KLM’s regional airline are also grounded due to GTF issues.

India’s Indigo Airlines also has a large number of A320neos grounded with GTF problems. About 11% of the nearly 3,000 A320neos in service are grounded or fly one a week, an Aviation Week analysis revealed.

PW’s reputation was already badly damaged before the GoFirst bankruptcy. However, an LNA analysis shows that forward orders for engines on the A320neo already were suffering.


  • CFM’s LEAP has a consistently larger market share, boosted by exclusivity on Boeing 737 MAX.
  • Initially PW won more orders for A321neo; CFM has overtaken in the order backlog.
  • Including A220 (exclusive GTF power) and MAX, plus neo split, CFM’s in-service market share is 66% to 34%.
  • But going forward, CFM has 60% of the backlog across all types to PW’s 19%–with 22% of the A320neo family orders undecided on engines.

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Bjorn’s Corner: New aircraft technologies. Part 11. Airframe.

By Bjorn Fehrm

May 5, 2023, ©. Leeham News: In our series on the different technologies available when developing next-generation airliners, we have covered the fuselage configuration and engine options.

Now we turn to airframe technologies. We will look at different airframe architectures, their advantages, and disadvantages. To support the discussion, we will model the different variants in our Airliner Performance and Cost model to understand their characteristics.

Figure 1. The Boeing truss-braced wing is a candidate for the next Heart of the Market airliner. Source: Boeing.

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Pontifications: Engine makers’ business model needs overhaul

By Scott Hamilton

May 2, 2023, © Leeham News: The business models for engine makers for decades have been simple: deeply, deeply discount the engines on the sale and make up the revenue and profits on the maintenance, overhaul, and repair (MRO) contracts.

It’s a model that’s served engine makers and customers alike well. Customers save millions of dollars on the upfront purchase of airplanes. The engine companies win market share.

There are downsides for the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), though. The discounts typically are steeper than those offered by Airbus and Boeing (and Embraer and ATR). LNA has seen deals with discounts as steep as 80% on the sales price. We’ve even seen one deal in which the OEM gave (as in free) the engines in exchange for the MRO contract.

The big downside to this is that it can take 10-12 years, or more, for the OEMs to recover their research and development and production ramp/learning curve costs. Then as the CFM 56 matured into perhaps the most reliable jet engine ever, with more than 25,000 hours on-wing, followed by the IAE V2500, MRO services contracts didn’t return the revenue and profits as quickly as before.

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Bjorn’s Corner: New aircraft technologies. Part 10. Engine choice

By Bjorn Fehrm.

April 28, 2023, ©. Leeham News: This is a summary of the article New aircraft technologies. Part 10P. Engine choice. The article discusses the engine architecture choices that must be made when developing the next-generation airliners.

Figure 1. The Pratt & Whitney high bypass geared turbofan technologies. Source: Pratt & Whitney.

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Bjorn’s Corner: New aircraft technologies. Part 10P. The engine choice

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By Bjorn Fehrm

April 28, 2023, ©. Leeham News: This is a complementary article to Part 10. The engine choice. It discusses in detail the next-generation engines for the Heart of the Market airliners that today are called the single-aisle segment. What will be the alternatives and final engine choice? Will hydrogen-fueled engines play a role?

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UPDATE: GE reports double-digit growth for first quarter

By Bryan Corliss

April 25, 2023, © Leeham News – GE reported generating its first free cash flow in a decade, along with double-digit growth in orders, revenue, and operating profit, amid what it called a “robust” market for commercial aircraft engines and services.

The company reported a profit of $1.3 billion from its GE Aerospace segment in the first quarter, up 46% from the same quarter last year.

The highlight of the quarter was the sale of some 800 LEAP engines to Air India, which will power the airline’s new Airbus and Boeing jets. The engines will be built by CFM, the joint venture between GE and Safran.

In addition, GE won the orders for the engines powering the 30 Boeing 777X and 787 jets Air India ordered, making it arguably the biggest winner in the year’s biggest aircraft deal. 

  • GE CEO sees supply chain stabilizing
  • Services generate more revenue
  • How long will good times last? 

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Bjorn’s Corner: New aircraft technologies. Part 9. Engine core advances

By Bjorn Fehrm.

April 21, 2023, ©. Leeham News: This is a summary of the article New aircraft technologies. Part 9P. Engine core advances. The article discusses how developments for the next-generation airliner engine cores will increase the thermal efficiency of next-generation engines.

Figure 1. The Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engine with its compact core enabled by a geared high RPM design. Source; Pratt & Whitney.

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Bjorn’s Corner: New aircraft technologies. Part 9P. Engine core advances

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By Bjorn Fehrm

April 21, 2023, ©. Leeham News: This is a complementary article to Part 9. Engine core advances. It discusses in detail the next-generation propulsion system cores and what efficiency improvements to expect from different technological advancements.

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