GE Engine Venture Claims Savings Pratt Calls ‘Garbage’

The rivalry over engine sales for more than 1,100 narrow-body jets flared anew when a fuel-saving claim by a General Electric Co.-Safran SA joint venture spurred Pratt & Whitney to denounce the assertion as “garbage.”

Engines from CFM, the GE-Safran program, will be more efficient and cost less to maintain on Airbus SAS’s A320neo airliner than the offering from United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney, CFM Executive Vice President Chaker Chahrour told reporters June 15 ahead of this week’s Paris Air Show.

“We’ve never been more bullish,” said Chahrour, who boosted his savings forecast over the life of each jet to $4 million, up from $3.5 million last year. “This is going to be the most robust and reliable engine on a narrow-body plane and the market reaction really supports that.”

The cost-cutting assertions are “garbage,” Bob Saia, Pratt & Whitney’s head of commercial engine development, said yesterday in an interview in Paris, underscoring the intensity of the jockeying to equip new A320s for which no provider has been set. CFM estimates the value of the global engine market for single-aisle jets at $500 billion during the next 20 years.

There are 1,118 A320neos in that group, according to according to data compiled by Bloomberg. There are another 1,160 neos on which engine awards already have been settled, the data show.

Physics Questioned

Dave Hess, the president of East Hartford, Connecticut-based Pratt & Whitney and Saia’s boss, echoed the criticism of CFM’s assertions.

“You’d have to violate the laws of physics and economics for what they’re saying to be true,” Hess said in a separate interview.

The companies took different approaches to cut fuel burn, greenhouse-gas emissions and noise. Pratt & Whitney says the gearbox in its engine allows the fan at the front and the turbine at the back to spin at optimal speeds. Cincinnati-based CFM says its advanced materials, including ceramic matrix composites, permit hotter internal temperatures.

Airbus, a unit of Toulouse-based European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co., unveiled its upgraded A320 with new engines in December 2010. The move pressured Boeing Co. to improve its 737 model, the world’s most widely flown passenger jet.

CFM is the exclusive provider of engines for the current generation of 737s and retained that position on the overhauled planes, known as the 737 Max. Boeing has 1,381 firm orders for the plane, according to its website. It will also be the only choice for buyers of the C919, a new single-aisle plane under development by the Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China.

Pratt & Whitney’s new engine is available on new narrow-body airliners from Canada’s Bombardier Inc. and Russia’s Irkut Corp. as well as regional jets from Japan’s Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. and Brazil’s Embraer SA.

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