Engine Maker Sees Longer Recovery for Boeing 737 Max Than for Airbus A320

(Bloomberg) -- The world’s largest jet-engine maker sees a more arduous road to recovery for the turbofan powering Boeing Co.’s 737 Max than for a similar product on Airbus SE’s competing A320neo jet.

CFM International is already reaching average delivery rates targeted for 2019 on the A320neo engine as supply-chain performance improves, Chief Executive Officer Gael Meheust said in an interview Thursday in New Delhi. The Max’s variant “is a little more difficult” since production began later and CFM, a General Electric Co.-Safran SA joint venture, is the jet’s sole engine supplier, he said.

Key Insights

  • CFM is working to get deliveries of the Leap engine, its most advanced power plant, back on schedule. Delays have shrunk to less than four weeks, Meheust said.
  • The venture expects to get back on schedule by year’s end, which is crucial to keep pace with steep production increases charted by Boeing and Airbus for their workhorse single-aisle aircraft. The Leap is stable and not experiencing vibration or fan-blade issues that have plagued a competing model.
  • CFM is discussing its next potential engine with Boeing, which is honing plans for a new midsize aircraft, a lower-cost, twin-aisle airliner dubbed the 797.
  • “We’ve made a proposal and there is a dialogue. And the timing is going to be whatever our customer will decide,” Meheust said.

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  • CFM is seeing improved first-time yields, a measure of production efficiency, from the casting and forging companies at the heart of its delays.
  • “We were only facing some yield issue on a very small number of parts, five or six parts, but you know, if one is missing, you cannot make the engine,” said Sebastien Imbourg, a CFM executive vice president. “And since that time we are working with our suppliers in order to improve our yield.’’
  • CFM is supplying 59 percent of the engines for the A320neo, a contract it splits with by United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney division. Both Boeing and Airbus have dozens of narrow-body jets parked as they await tardy deliveries of engines and other components.
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