Bjorn’s Corner: Aircraft engine maintenance, Part 3

 

By Bjorn Fehrm

March 17, 2017, ©. Leeham Co: In the last Corner,  we showed graphs of the yearly flight hours for engines on single-aisle aircraft. Now we will deduce the market for engine overhauls from these graphs.

These will show which engines generate a maintenance volume that is interesting for engine overhaul companies and which engines are niche.

Figure 1. Principal picture of a direct drive turbofan. Source: GasTurb.

Based on the market size, we will then go through how an engine is maintained when new, mature and at end-of-life.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Turbofan engine challenges, Part 3

By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm

November 12, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: In our trip through a modern turbofan airliner engine and its technologies, we looked last week at the engine intake and the fan. We now continue with the compressor parts.

As compressors and turbines use the same principles (but in opposing ways), we will look at these principles this week and how their roles in the engine create their special characteristics.

trent-xwb-model-stations_

Figure 1. Stylistic cross section of a three-shaft turbofan with section numbers. Source: GasTurb.

As before, to make things concrete, we use a GasTurb simulation of a Rolls-Royce Trent XWB 84k engine to look at practical data when needed. As before, I have no specific knowledge about the engine and will not use any data outside what is public information.

The GasTurb cross section of a three-shaft turbofan is shown in Figure 1. We will examine the sections between station numbers (22) and (3) and (4) and (5) in the general discussion of compressors and turbines. We will then look at some data for common compressors. Read more

Engine industry clamoring for road back

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

October 13, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: The airline engine industry is like a ticking bomb. Over the years, a business practice of selling the engines under manufacturing cost and planning to recover costs and make a profit on the aftermarket developed. This goes back decades.

The practice was fostered by fierce competition over the engine contracts for aircraft which offered alternative engines. The losses of the engine sales could be made up later by selling spare parts and services at high margins.

trent-7000

Figure 1. Trent 7000 from Rolls-Royce. Source: Rolls-Royce.

These “jam tomorrow” practices have several implications. The engine industry is now confronted with these and wonder how it could put itself in such a bind. How to handle these and what is the way back?

Summary:

  • High competition in engine sales forced ultra high discounts for the up-front engine sale.
  • Aftermarket schemes was created that should recover profits over spare parts and services.
  • But these maintenance practices create all sorts of problems in the used engine market.
  • The engine industry now wants to return to more normal business practices. But how do they find the way back?

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Bjorn’s Corner: What did we learn in 2015; engines

By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm

15 January 2016, ©. Leeham Co: Last week we looked back on what happened in 2015 on the airframe front. We finish the retrospective by looking at what turbofan engine technology came to market in 2015. New engine technology is vital, as it is on the engine side that the quest for higher fuel efficiency has the largest successes.

While advances on the airframe side might bring an additional 5% per generation, the engines typically increase their efficiency per new generation with up to three times that value. Fuel efficiency per delivered thrust unit was improved with a whopping 15% over the engine it replaces for the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan (PW GTF). It was certified for use on the Airbus A320neo in Q4 2015

The competing CFM LEAP-1A shall deliver the same improvement level to the A320neo once it is certified in the summer of this year. This engine has a smaller sister that started ground tests last year, the LEAP-1B, which is developed for the Boeing 737 MAX series.

The engine that is easily forgotten is the Rolls Royce Trent XWB. It entered service on the Airbus A350-900 during the year. It brings an improvement level of around 10% compared to the engines of the aircraft that the A350 replaces (Airbus A340/A330ceo and Boeing’s 777-200 range).

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Bjorn’s Corner: Intro, LCC long range and CFM’s LEAP

By Bjorn Fehrm

March 19, 2015: This is the first version of my Corner where I will comment on the aeronautical world as I see it. It will be a mix of tech things (I am an engineer) and my view on things from my European vantage point. Enough on reason and style; lets get started.

LCC goes long range: After AirAsiaX and Norwegian, now Ryanair is going long range, according to Irish Times (or not; the latest news from Robert Wall of The Wall Street Journal is that the board has not approved a long range business plan).

Be that as it may with Ryanair, the key thing is that what happened to the majors on short haul is about to hit them on long haul as well. Short haul LCCs brought about a change in airline economics and in single aisle aircraft. The LCCs, followed by Ultra LCCs, started the trend to denser and denser configurations where the latest trends are sub 29 inch pitch slim-seats and lavatories that started at 37 inch getting slimmed to 31 inch. It has also brought about changes in galleys and emergency exits configurations, all leading to aircraft with higher and higher capacities.

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Airbus A400M; how good and how late?

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction

01 Feb 2015: Six years ago Tom Enders, then-CEO for Airbus (when the parent was named EADS), threatened to stop the A400M project. He then played hardball to get eight European states to understand they had to pay 5bn Euro more or get no plane. Airbus existence could be threatened by a project that its management when the program was launch (CEO Jean Pierson) did not want but that the politicians convinced Pierson’s successor, Noel Forgeard, to do.

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Airbus A400M Atlas landing at Farnborough Airshow. Source: Wikipedia.

Now Tom Enders is CEO of Airbus Group and has to apologize to the same governments that he struck a deal with then to finish the project if Airbus got the money and a consent to three years of delays. Now Airbus can no longer fulfill the terms and the airplane is still falling short of performance specifications. Deliveries have been delayed further and promised capabilities will be delivered later than said. Like then, heads are rolling at Airbus and tighter control is being applied.

Summary

  • The A400M rests between the Lockheed Martin C-130 and the Boeing C-17.
  • European countries need an airlifter for military and humanitarian missions.
  • Dirt airstrip capability is needed.
  • The program will take longer to complete and this time Airbus has to pay.

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Boom times leads to looming cash flow shortfall across OEMs

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Introduction

Dec. 16, 2014: There have been record aircraft orders year after year, swelling the backlogs of Airbus and Boeing to seven years on some product lines, Bombardier’s CSeries is sold out through 2016, Embraer has a good backlog and the engine makers are swamped with new development programs.

So it is with some irony that several Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are warning of cash flow squeezes in the coming years.

Summary

  • With so many development programs in the works, the prospect of new airplane and engine programs are being trimmed.
  • Most airframe and engine OEMs under pressure.
  • The full impact of the pending cash flow squeeze hasn’t been appreciated by the markets yet.

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MTU investors day: views of its engine programs, future airplane timelines; separately, Embraer COO interview

GTF Milestones Nov 2014

Figure 1. Technical milestones have been passed on PW GTF programs for the applications on Bombardier, Airbus, Mitsubishi and Irkut airplanes and are approaching for Embraer. Source: MTU Investors Day. Click to enlarge.

Nov. 30, 2014: MTU Investors Day: MTU is a major participant in engine development and supplies, participating on the GEnx, GTF and GEnx program. It’s also a member of the joint venture in International Aero Engines and it’s a major player in the aftermarket Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) sector, providing a serious competitive alternative to the aftermarket contracts offered by the engine OEMs. Its held an investors day conference Nov. 25. Highlights included:

  • Milestones have been passed on the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbo Fanengine for the Bombardier CSeries, Airbus A320neo family, the Mitsubishi MRJ and Irkut MC-21; and are on schedule for the Embraer E-Jet E2.
  • The success of the GTF is requiring huge production commitments.
  • The large number of airplane/engine programs require a major ramp-up of production during the next few years.
  • The major investment in new engines is largely over for now, leading to the expectation of long-term revenue from MRO.

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