"The major engine makers promise they can deliver double-digit efficiency gains on the 737, and Boeing is validating if gains would be enough to make re-engining worthwhile” said Boeing Chairman, President and Chief Executive Jim McNerney. “Airbus is moving aggressively on possible re-engining of its single-aisle A320 family, obviously what our competitor does, will bear on our decision" he added. Addressing the possibility that a re-engined 737 could cannibalize existing 737 orders, McNerney said: "You'd rather obsolete yourself a little bit than have someone else to it."
The prospect of a mid-decade re-engining of the A320–with either an IAE-led adaptation of the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan or a CFM Leap X variant, or both–and a 2024 target for introduction of an entirely new Airbus narrowbody raises a crucial question for Boeing: Does the U.S. company follow its rival’s lead or go its own way, abandon re-engining and, instead, spend its resources on developing technologies for its own brand-new airplane, perhaps well ahead of 2024? Would such a move, then, prompt Airbus to move faster toward launching an A320 replacement?
AirInsight suggests that re-engining current narrow bodies could achieve the efficiencies sought until a new narrow body finally gets to the market at the end of the 2020 decade. “With new engine technology and more modern systems, the CSeries, MS-21 and C-919 would be 12-17% more fuel efficient than the existing A320 or 737NG models...” the team also reported.
Customers already know that engine advances could get them double digit gains in efficiency by 2015 and are thus anxious to get it since the hosing they took on fuel hedging. It is equally compelling for the manufacturers, since a re-engining program would be only a quarter of the costs of a new program.
It is definitely attractive for manufacturers to re-engine the existing models for the short term. Yet, it is still not clear whether a whole new design or just re-engining would be more profitable in the long run. But with the Airbus taking this opportunity very seriously, it is a fair bet that Boeing will also join the caravan and the engine offering will be brought to market, making airway transport a little cheaper for us in the process.
This article was contributed by resident Aviation News editor Yigit A. Coskun.
Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1000G Engine. They seem to have chosen their catch-phrase right.