Civil engine production-rate records are set to tumble; military makers face more uncertainty
Propelled by the extraordinary surge in demand for single-aisle aircraft, both, the – joint venture, and Pratt & Whitney are in the midst of executing on, or preparing for record years of production.
Despite its recent experience of successive years of major orders for the—the best-selling commercial jet engine of all time—even CFM appears to have been taken by surprise by continuing interest in the current generation. The bulk of the 2,062 orders taken by late 2015 were for the Leap family, but 687 were for the CFM56.
Even though it is imminently due for replacement by the Leap, CFM production continues to climb to all-new levels. More than 1,650 CFM56-5/-7s were assembled in 2015 and production is expected to peak in 2016 at 1,700. Overall orders for the Leap, which will power the, MAX and , are nearing the 10,000 mark, and about 150 and-1Bs, the first of the coming flood, will be delivered in 2016. Production of the Leap engine is set to rise rapidly from 2016 on, reaching over 1,000 engines a year by 2018 and more than 1,800 per year by 2020. The first Leap variant, the -1A for the , was certificated in November 2015, while the Leap-1B will power the 737 MAX for its maiden flight early this year.
Pratt & Whitney plans to deliver 58 F135s for the F-35 in 2016, including several Rolls-Royce lift-fan-configured F-35B short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing versions. Credit: Lockheed Martin
Pratt & Whitney’s grand plan to return to the mainstream commercial engine business reaches a crucial stage in 2016 as the geared turbofan enters service on the A320neo andC Series. The -powered A320neo was officially certificated in November 2015, while the PW1500G-powered , the first C Series variant, was expected to follow suit near year-end. Flight tests of the PW1900G, the latest variant for the and 195-E2, began in late 2015 on Pratt’s 747SP flying testbed in Mirabel, Quebec, and are due to wrap up by early 2016. plans to begin flying the first E190-E2 in mid-2016, with entry into service set for 2018.
Also entering flight testing is the PW1200G-powered, which completed its first flight on Nov. 11, from Nagoya, Japan. A version of this engine, the PW1700G, is in development to power the E175-E2 as well, set to enter service in 2020. Pratt is also completing engine-level certification tests of the PW1400G, which will power the MC-21. The first engine, complete with its Bombardier Belfast-provided integrated propulsion system, was delivered to Irkut in July 2015; the second was delivered by year-end. The nacelle, which comprises systems and a combination of composite and metallic structures, is based on technology developed under the U.K.-funded Environmentally Friendly Engine program.
Pratt says total orders for all versions of the geared turbofan now stand at more than 7,000 from more than 70 customers. The company has delivered over 100 engines to date for development, testing and production with approximately 300 more expected to be delivered in 2016 as Embraer, Mitsubishi and Irkut continue development and Bombardier and Airbus enter service.
Large engine-makers General Electric andalso continue to see historic increases in production levels as widebody manufacturers continue deliveries at record rates. GE’s output of -115s for the has hit a sustained rate of 200 per year and will see that again for the balance of 2016, though the same rate looks less certain for 2018 onward as begins transitioning to the 777X. Production of the -1B/-2B also continues at a high tempo, particularly for the 787 for which GE claims the bulk of the market. Deliveries of both the GE90 and GEnx are expected to remain at around 200 per year for 2016. Including the CFM56, smaller and larger Boeing twinjet engines, GE delivered around 2,570 commercial engines in 2015 and with the added volume of CFM56 and Leap engines, expects this to reach about 2,750 in 2016.
The first full-engine run of General Electric’s GE9X is targeted for 2016. Credit: General Electric
GE’s next-generation big engine development effort for the 777X is also set for a key milestone in the first half of 2016 with the scheduled first run of the full GE9X engine. The GE9X is designed to have 10% better specific fuel consumption than the GE90-115B and will form most of the planned 20% improvement in fuel burn between 777-300ER and its successor. The first GE9X core began tests in late 2015 at GE’s Evendale, Ohio, facility and achieved a compressor ratio performance higher than the design target of 27:1 during initial runs.
Rolls-Royce’s future is increasingly hitched to the Airbus star as the engine maker consolidates its exclusive positions on theand reengined , as well as the growing Rolls-oriented A330 and backlogs. Rolls is particularly focused on boosting production of -84s and initial -97s to support the A350-900/1000 programs through 2016 using a newly installed pulsed assembly system at its Derby, England, site. Concurrent production changes have included transitioning assembly for the 787 to the company’s Seletar Campus in Singapore. Opened in 2012, the 36-acre Seletar site also assembles the for the A380 and is expected to increase output in conjunction with Derby to support growing volumes, following a 2015 order from Emirates Airlines.
The £30 million ($45.5 million) site upgrade primarily covers revisions to support the A350, firm orders for which translate into an orderbook for more than 1,500 engines. The company was on track to deliver 70 XWB-84s in 2015 and will see this number grow in 2016 as it targets a rate of one XWB-84/-97 a (working) day by 2017, or around 250 per year. Production of theremains at more than four per month, but is expected to reduce in lockstep with Airbus delivery rates as the manufacturer transitions to the A330neo and the Trent 7000.
First run of the Trent 7000, a derivative of the improved Trent 1000 TEN in final development for the 787, was completed in November 2015. First production deliveries are set for late third-quarter 2017; entry into service of the first -900 is set for the end of that year. The first A330-800neo, the reengined A330-200, will follow in second-quarter 2018. Rolls-Royce aims to have the Trent 1000 TEN certified in time for flight tests on a 787, to begin in 2016. After successful trials, the upgraded engine will enter service in time for flight tests to begin on a 787 by year-end, paving the way for entry into service on the stretched 787-10 in 2018. Despite recent near-term profit warnings, Rolls continues to invest in a series of technology programs to support development of its next-generation Advance and UltraFan families for the 2020s and beyond.
Snecma, which is investing heavily to support its CFM production commitments for the Leap program, is also developing advanced technology for future engine demonstrators. Supported in part by the Clean Sky program, the effort will mature technology for two engine options Snecma is studying for future short-/medium-range commercial aircraft: an ultra-high-bypass ratio turbofan, with a bypass ratio of 15-plus, and a counter-rotating open rotor. Nearer term, the company is working to correct issues with the Silvercrest business jet engine, now due to power’s Falcon 5X later in 2016.
In military propulsion, the biggest actively growing production program remains the Pratt & Whitneyfor the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). Not including early test and development engines, more than 150 F135s are powering the JSF. Some 45 F-35s joined the U.S. and international fleet this year, with 63 due in 2016 and 93 in 2017 if budgets are approved. Production thereafter is set to rise to 160-168 aircraft per year among the three assembly sites in the U.S., Italy and Japan. To support this plan, Pratt delivered 50 F135s in 2015 and plans to deliver 58 in 2016. Longer term, the company is gearing up for a maximum rate of six F135 engines per month toward the end of the decade.
Production of the PW4062 continues to accelerate for the Boeing; 22 engines are set for delivery in 2016 as the tanker program accelerates. Not including spares and international orders, Pratt expects to deliver at least 358 engines through 2028.
For GE, military deliveries continue to slowly contract. Compared with 2014, when 1,000 turbofans and turboshafts were delivered, total military deliveries for 2015 were expected to be close to 800, or down almost 20%. Conversely, flying hours and spares demand were both up by about 5% for the year. As GE combines deliveries of the commercial CT7 turboshaft in with its military business, the contraction partially reflects the downturn in the offshore and oil exploration helicopter market. Turboshaft deliveries could see an uptick in 2017 with the service entry of the CT7-2E1-powered Bell 525 Relentless in 2017, and again in 2019 when the GE38-poweredCH-53K is due to debut with the U.S. Marine Corps.
Output of the CT7/T700 family is expected to remain at 600-680 engines while the combined F101/F110 line will deliver 30-40 engines per year through 2017, the latter closely tied to deliveries of the. Based on continuing production of the and prospects for the JAS-39E and Indian Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mk. II, deliveries of the F414 are expected to run at 80-100 per year through the mid-2020s. Confidence in F414 rates is partially due to progress on the JAE-39, which is slated to make its first flight in the first half of 2016. GE holds 90 firm orders from Sweden and Brazil and expects that tally to rise. The first flight-test engine for the LCA was due for shipment by year-end and production is expected to get underway in 2018.
Rolls-Royce delivered the 2,000thturboprop engine in 2015, the majority sent to ’s production line which, at the current rate, requires almost 100 engines per year. The AE-2100 family includes the AE1107C engine that continues to be produced for the tiltrotor and line, which powers the and Triton UAVs. In 2015, the U.S. Air Force also approved acquisition of the first T56 Series 3.5 upgrade kits for older , representing the first of what the engine maker hopes will be a potential U.S. military market for as many as 200 aircraft plus additional international T56-powered P-3s.
Production also continues of the Airbusairlifter’s turboprop, a collaborative engine developed by Rolls, MTU, Snecma and ITP. Rolls-Royce is contracted to produce more than 750 engines for the A400M program. Production of another collaborative military engine, the made with Avio, MTU and ITP for ’s Typhoon combat aircraft, has passed the 1,100 mark, and sales campaigns continue to extend aircraft deliveries beyond 2018.
This article was originally published on 24 December, 2015.