Engine choices for NMA

It looks increasingly likely that next Boeing will launch the NMA -  or MoM, or 797, or whatever you want to call it.
One of the most interesting questions is the engine choice(s) that Boeing will make:
First of all, will the customer have an engine choice? Here the questions are:

-   does Boeing want to give the customers a choice
- how large the engine OEM think the market for the new aircraft will be

If Boeing does not want to give a choice of engines, then we can see CFM as the most likely “winner”. Why? First of all, of course, because their good relationship with Boeing in general. The also because CFM would lose market share when the NMA is launched: the NMA would certainly take some sales from the B737MAX-9, 10 and the A321neo/LR and therefore business away from their LEAP-1A/B ( and from PW’s PW1100G as well). So if CFM would not be the sole engine provider for the NMA, CFM would lose business. Hard to see that CFM would not use their whole financial, technical and market power to defend their market share.
Now, if Boeing does want to give their customers a choice the question is if the engine OEM’s think they can build a good business case around getting half of the NMA market. Boeing officially claims that there is a market for around 4000 of even 5000 airplanes in this category. Others are not so sure…
If now Boeing selects two engine OEM for the NMA and one of the thinks the market is not large enough for two, we could see a sole source even if Boeing wants to have two engines. GE seems to be a bit skeptical about too many engine options – although they later revised their tone, reportedly they initially persisted on a sole source solution.
Now what kind of engine would we see for the NMA?
If EIS is in 2025 we should not expect something radically new. With an engine choice in early 2019 and a certification of the engine in needed 2024 for a one year flight test, there are five years between the real start of the development program and certification. This is about the same time that was available for P&W and CFM to develop their PW1100G and LEAP-1A. The GTF was tested in flight from both P&W and Airbus before (not the later PW1100G but a development engine based on the PW6000 core). The technologies for the LEAP engine were developed starting around 2008, about the same time P&W started building their GTF demonstrator.
So for the NMA engine there is less time to get an engine developed and certified than for the A320neo and the B737MAX.

We should therefore expect engines based on the PW1100G and the LEAP engine family – no geared turbofan (or how they would name it) from CFM. 2025 would just come too early…

And RR – they are working on their version of the geared turbo fan, called UltraFan, since at least 2012. The first flight test is scheduled for 2021. Potentially, they could be ready by 2025, if the flight test would not reveal any major problems. But detailed design would have to be in full swing by then and the first engine development test for the NMA should be in 2022.

So would Boeing take the risk? Since the days of the B787 Boeing seems to be “risk averse”, and with good reason!

The more likely RR engine that Boeing would consider would be a 3 shaft engine based on the Advance 3 core – the same core that would then later be used for the Ultra Fan - maybe for the Airbus answer to the Boeing NMA?
So the most likely engine types for NMA would be

  • an advanced version of the PW1100G from P&W
  • an advanced version of the LEAP-1A/-B from CFM
  • a 3 shaft engine based on the Advance 3 core from RR

1 comment:

  1. Will the RR advance not be better than any Leap or PW engines? Also, they're been working on the UltraFan for a while now according to their website and will potentially be available by 2025. I don't think Boeing will pass on that choice even if they have to wait one more year or so. Perhaps Boeing can offer the first engine option on the plane, Let's say "enhanced Leap" engine by 2025 and then the RR UltraFan a year later. It surely makes for an interesting debate for the next few years.