Widebody Order Gap Update - B777 and A330

Leeham News and Comment has a story today that both Jet Airways and Kenya Airways want to get rid of their B777-300ER. Jet Airways has ten of the type while Kenya Airways has three. Scott Hamilton notes that this could build up to the pressure for Boeing to sell the last B777-300ER until the B777X will go into service in late 2019 the earliest. So let us have a look how many B777-300ER (and B777F) Boeing needs to sell to bridge production without any cut. Also, have a look how Airbus


The CFM LEAP-1B discussion

Last week, after the first flight of the LEAP-1B on the GE Flying Testbed, Aviation Week had a story about the LEAP engine family and the alleged performance shortfall, in particular the -1B for the B737MAX. Leeham then also had a short article, stating that the SFC shortfall, first reported by Aspire Aviation of 4-5% was only measured in one engine, where “tolerances” (i.e. gaps and, in particular radial tip clearances) where intentionally opened to test a deteriorated engine.

This kind of testing is new to me, I never heard that these kind of tests were done. In the end it is very expensive to build a test engine solely to measure the performance with so called “end of life ”clearances”. Normally the clearances in the engine are constantly measured so you get a relation between the change of the clearances due to wear and rub ins and the change of the performance (both fuel burn and compressor stability).

To build in intentionally larger tip clearances makes sense only for the compressors to test compressor stability. And if these tests showed a SFC shortfall of 4-5% (I now heard 5%) then either the performance retention of the LEAP engine is very bad or there indeed is a performance shortfall as the effect of larger tip clearance should not lead to a loss in SFC larger than 2%.

Now CFM always mad big  noise about the good performance retention the LEAP engine family would have, in particular compared to the P&W GTF Family. One could ask: how do they want to know that? And I think, neither CFM nor P&W nor anybody else can know today and will know until real life data is available. With “real life data” I mean data that will come out of the field once airlines really fly the aircraft and engines for some time.

So we don’t know for sure how much of the (obviously measured) 4-5% are attributable to a new and with production tip clearances build engine. But CFM’s argumentation does not add up to the point where they would meet not only their own expectations. To meet the own pretest prediction within 0.5% does not mean a whole lot to the outside world until you know where the prediction was relative to specification, i.e. relative to the target SFC where the B737MAX would meet 14% fuel burn reduction vs. the B737NG.


CFM LEAP-1B missing SFC

The revelation by Aspire Aviation about the performance shortfalls of the CFM LEAP engine family did not came totally unexpected. Rumours have been around for a long time. But the severity of the shortfall in the LEAP-1B engine is somewhat shocking, at least for Boeing customers. The shortfall of 2% in the case of the LEAP-1A is relatively unspectacular: the shortfalls of recent engines at EIS like the GEnx and the Trent 1000 were higher. A shortfall of 2% can be corrected with a suitable performance improvement program (PIP), but a


Further A320 rate hikes needed!

Just a week after – unsurprisingly – announcing a further rate increase for the A320, John Leahy yesterday at the ISATAT Americas talked about further increasing production and potentially announcing this until the end of the year.
Given the current backlog of the A320ceo the rate increase perfectly makes sense –


A330ceo order gap update

Airbus last week announced to lower the A330 production to 6 units a month from the 1st quarter of 2016 on. Today the rate is at 10 per month, coming down to 9 in the last quarter of this year.