CFM Sees Airbus Sticking to A320Neo Schedule Despite Slow Start

  • GE-Safran Venture Has Shipped a Dozen Leap Engines to Airbus
  • Engine maker plans 100-plus Leap Deliveries to Airbus, Boeing

CFM International Inc., which competes with Pratt & Whitney to power Airbus’s new A320neo aircraft, said it’s confident that deliveries of its Leap 1A engines will stick to the planned schedule even after the European planemaker said its deliveries of the single aisle model this year will be backloaded in the second half.

The engine maker, a joint venture between General Electric Co. and Safran SA, is planning to deliver more than 100 of its new Leap engines to power the newest generation single aisle planes, Airbus’s A320neo and Boeing’s Max. CFM has already delivered more than a dozen Leap production engines to Airbus this year, and will begin shipping Leap 1b engines to Boeing later this year.

“We have a plan to build those 100 engines this year, we’re building them, and see no signs of them not being taken,” Allen Paxson, executive vice president for CFM told reporters at a briefing today in London ahead of the Farnborough Air Show later this year.

Airbus’s deliveries of A320neo planes have so far gone more slowly than planned after CFM rival Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp., suffered difficulties with cooling issues on its engines. The scheduled first customer for the plane, Qatar Airways Ltd. refused to take initial deliveries and about two dozen planes A320neos have been built but not delivered as they await engines with fixes. Pratt has just begun shipping engines with software and hardware upgrades for the cooling problems.

CFM overall is bullish about the aviation market, given low fuel prices, sustained demand for travel and anticipated record airline profits, Chief Executive Officer Jean-Paul Ebanga said. This year, the manufacturer expects to build a record 1,700 CFM56 jet engines that power current-generation Boeing and Airbus narrow-body jets.

The venture is operating its factories at high gear, while plotting an increase to an even higher output by 2020 as the plane manufacturers ramp up production of their single-aisle aircraft. Leap engine production will rise from more than 100 this year to 500 in 2017, 1,100 in 2018 and 2,000 by 2020, Ebanga said. That ramp-up is meant to mirror increases by Airbus to 60 single-aisle planes monthly by 2019 and 57 a month by Boeing in that year as well.

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