Engine makers may face stiffer future ETOPS certification requirements

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Introduction

April 23, 2018, © Leeham News: Even before last week’s Southwest Airlines accident raised the focus on aircraft engines, industry officials were becoming worried that problems with engines powering the Boeing 747-8, 787, 737 MAX and Airbus A320neo may lead to stricter certification standards by regulatory authorities.

There is also emerging evidence that the issues with the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 on the 787s may negatively impact Airbus’ sales efforts with the A350. The A350 is powered by an entirely different RR engine, the Trent XWB, which by all accounts has had a virtually trouble-free entry into service.

But it’s a Rolls-Royce engine and airlines affected by or watching RR’s response to the Trent 1000 problems are skeptical about the Trent XWB, LNC is told.

Summary
  • How long will it take for the FAA and EASE to restore full ETOPS for the 787?
  • Concerns emerge that regulators may be more restrictive of ETOPS for new engines powering new planes, with the Boeing 777X next up.
  • Impact seen on reception of Rolls-Royce engines on Airbus A330neo and A350.
  • What do the engine problems mean for the Boeing NMA?

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Boeing faces 787 deliveries slow down with Rolls-Royce problems; earnings call April 25

April 21, 2018 © Leeham News: On the eve of the Boeing first quarter earnings call Wednesday, the company faces a slow-down in 787 deliveries at a time when it is gearing to ramp up production to 14/mo next year.

The engine issues with Rolls-Royce, resulting in grounded 787s across the globe, has had the knock-on effect of new production 787s emerging from the Everett and Charleston assembly plants without powerplants. Huge, yellow weight blocks are hung where the engines should be to keep the airplanes from sitting on their tails.

Delayed deliveries

At least five 787s in airline colors are on the Everett flight line awaiting engines, airplane spotters tell LNC. At least one in colors and two more without airline liveries are on the flight line at Charleston, a local reporter tells LNC. (Update: a sixth 787, this one for Gulf Air, rolled out of the Everett factory Friday night without engines.)

Engines from new production airplanes are being diverted to Aircraft on Ground (AOG), sources tell LNC.

As of April 18, there are 45 RR-powered 787s scheduled for delivery this year, according to the Ascend data base. The number rises to 57 next year.

Production isn’t expected to slow, but deliveries are already being affected, LNC is told—with physical evidence clear from the Gliders now parked at Everett and Charleston.

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Narrowbody and Widebody engine developments, Part 2

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

April 19, 2018, © Leeham News: In an article last week, we discussed the reason the new narrow-body engines are catching up to the fuel consumption of the wide-body engines.

Today we dig a bit deeper into the efficiency changes of the different engines and discuss which parameter changes have caused what changes in engine efficiency.

We will use our engine modeling software GasTurb to analyze what happens in a Turbofan when we change certain parameters.

Summary:

  • The engine’s Core or Thermal efficiency changes with Turbine Entry Temperature (TET).
  • To fully utilize such an increase in efficiency we need to adapt the overall design of the engine.

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Déjà vu all over again

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Introduction

April 16, 2018, © Leeham News: There’s high turnover in the executive ranks. Major delivery delays cause disruption and unhappy customers. Airlines are cancelling and switching orders. Product strategy is challenged. Your competitor is taking advantage and making significant inroads.

If this sounds familiar, it is.

It’s déjà vu all over again.

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FAA AD may severely limit ETOPS of some RR-powered 787s: sources

British Airways Boeing 787 without engines on the Boeing Paine Field line. Photo taken April 12 by Jennifer Schuld.

April 14, 2018, © Leeham News: An airworthiness directive from the US Federal Aviation Administration is expected as early as Tuesday that could severely restrict flight operations some of Rolls-Royce-powered Boeing 787s.

The AD is expected to require inspections and a reduction in the ETOPS long-range operation to 140 minutes from the nearest airport from 330 minutes, sources say. Inspections have to be made by May 20, according to preliminary information. If inspections fail, ETOPS may be reduced to 60, two airlines tell LNC. A third source didn’t have the numbers but said the AD is expected to be “onerous.”

Until the AD is issued and published, the numbers and conditions could change, one source tells LNC on background.

EASA, the European safety agency, issued its AD yesterday, with an April 20 effective date.

About 25% of the 787s are powered by Rolls-Royce engines, but not all engines are affected.

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Narrowbody and Widebody engine developments

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

April 12, 2018, © Leeham News: In an article yesterday about Long-Haul LCC costs we observed how the new Narrowbody engines are catching up to the fuel efficiencies of the Widebody engines.

Traditionally the Widebody engines were the efficiency leaders. The Narrowbody companions were designed to be durable rather than efficient.

Figure 1. Cut through of the Narrowbody LEAP engine. Source: CFM

We use the engine modelling software GasTurb to understand why this catching up of the Narrowbody engines has happened.

Summary:
  • The new Narrowbody engines for Airbus’ A320 series and Boeing’s 737 MAX are close in specific fuel consumption to the new Widebody engines.
  • We use the GasTurb engine modelling software to find the root cause of this change.

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Is Long-Haul LCC viable? Part 3

By Bjorn Fehrm

April 11, 2018, © Leeham News: In the second article if Long-Haul LCC is a viable business, we described the cost items which have to be part of a Revenue versus Cost analysis.

In a subsequent article, we used our performance model to develop the typical costs for the aircraft types we study. We now look at these typical costs, discuss their background and relative importance. Read more

Is Airbus’ A330-800 the longest range widebody under 300 seats?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

March 29, 2018, © Leeham News: Boeing’s 787-9 has opened new ultra-long routes such as Qantas’ first flight from Perth in Australia to London Heathrow last weekend (a 7,900nm, 17-hours flight). The 787-9 has been the undisputed long-haul star under 300 seats, with Airbus A350-900ULR underbidding the Boeing 777-200LR’s fuel burn for over 300 seats ultra-long haul flying.

But the competition for below 300 seat ULR alternatives will change in two years. Airbus A330-800 is then available in its 251t version. It will fly longer than the 787-9, according to Airbus.

The range of 7,635nm given by Boeing for the 787-9 and 8,150nm by Airbus for the A330-800 is not using the same seating and fuel reserve rules. We use our performance model to weed out the differences, to make an apples-to-apples comparison of the 787-9 and A330-800 as ULR aircraft.

Summary:

  • The choice between the 787-9 or A330-800 for Ultra Long-haul Routes (ULR) will depend on the passenger loads which can be expected.
  • For thin routes, the A330-800 will be the cheaper aircraft to operate.
  • It will also fly longer on thin routes, as its large tanks mean passenger capacity can be traded for more fuel further than for a 787-9.
  • When the 787-9 can be filled, it’s the choice with the better seat-mile cost, as it should; it’s the larger aircraft, spreading fixed costs over more paying passengers.

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Focus on NMA engines: all OEMs vying for Boeing’s approval

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Introduction

March 22, 2018, © Leeham Co.: As Boeing enters the final stretch whether to launch the New Midrange Aircraft (NMA, aka 797) market focus should shift to the engines more than the airframe and even the market demand.

It all comes down to this: no engines, no plane.

Monday’s post outlined some of the issues to consider.

But there are larger implications as well.

Summary
  • Market sources are tossing about various scenarios about the future GE Aviation and CFM.
  • Rolls-Royce won’t have its Trent 1000 problems fixed until 2021 or 2022, at great cost.
  • Pratt & Whitney won’t have its Geared Turbo Fan final PIP packages for its problems sorted out until around 2021.
  • Resources—both financial and with engineering—are stretched now.
  • Sequencing current engine problems, and in the case, GE’s GE9X, are a factor, in the eyes of some.

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GE/CFM in “lockstep” with Boeing on NMA

David Joyce

March 22, 2018, © Leeham News: GE Aviation/CFM International are in “lockstep” with Boeing for development of an engine for the New Midrange Aircraft (NMA, or 797), the CEO of GE Aviation told a JP Morgan Aviation conference last week.

David Joyce acknowledged that there are technical issues and production delays for the new CFM LEAP 1A and 1B that power the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX families respectively. Production is running up to six weeks late, but should be caught up by the end of this year, he said.

Technical issues, while affecting at least 100 engines, nevertheless are far less of an issue than those plaguing rival Pratt & Whitney’s Geared Turbo Fan.

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