January 08, 2013
Engine manufacturers will be busy in 2013 as testing accelerates on the latest commercial turbofans and work advances on the next generation of military powerplants. Production will rise, but more significantly on the commercial side than the military.
The pace is highest at CFM and Pratt & Whitney as they battle for the single-aisle airliner market with the Leap-1 and PW1000G, respectively. While the 2011 and 2012 order levels are unlikely to be sustained in 2013, it will see vital tests for both engines.
Even though they compete head-to-head only on the Airbus A320NEO, each powers airliner families competing in the narrowbody market, ranging from the Boeing 737 MAX and Comac C919 (both using the Leap) to the Irkut MS-21 (PW1400G) and Bombardier CSeries (PW1500G). Overall, General Electric/Safran joint company CFM has logged orders and commitments for more than 4,350 engines across the three models, 1,192 of them Leap-1As for the NEO. Pratt has orders and commitments for almost 3,000 engines, of which close to 1,140 are for the new Airbus twin.
Pratt began ground tests of the PW1100G for the NEO in November 2012 and aims to bolster its market position through its new role as the leading shareholder in International Aero Engines (IAE), maker of the V2500 engine powering today’s A320 family. Under an arrangement finalized in mid-2012, Pratt acquired Rolls-Royce’s 32.5% stake in IAE, while MTU Aero Engines’ share grew to 16% and Japanese Aero Engines retained its 23%. Pratt and Rolls, meanwhile, have longer-term plans to form a joint company to develop new engines for the next generation of mid-size aircraft,
The first of the geared turbofans to enter service, the CSeries will use the PW1500G on its first flight in mid-2013 and service entry in mid-2014. The PW1200G will power the first Mitsubishi Regional Jet in late 2013, while the first PW1100G for the NEO will be certified in the third quarter of 2014, to enter service in October 2015.
CFM’s Leap-1 is expected begin ground runs by the end of September 2013. Although the Leap-1A and -1C run parallel for much of the time because of their commonality, the first to fly on GE’s Boeing 747 testbed will be the -1C engine for the C919, in April 2014. Engine certification is expected in March 2015, and service entry in the second quarter of 2016. The NEO engine is scheduled to fly in September 2014. First flight on the A320NEO is due around the third quarter of 2015, with entry into service the following year.
Developments in large commercial turbofans for 2013 will focus on: Rolls-Royce’s Trent XWB, when it powers the first Airbus A350-900 flight around mid-year; progress on upgrading GE and Rolls engines for the Boeing 787; and production ramp-up to support increased widebody assembly rates at Airbus and Boeing. The greatest uncertainty in the big-fan business, which may be resolved by year-end, is whether Boeing will offer its proposed 777X derivative with a choice of engines.
GE is increasing production of the GE90-115B to 200 engines a year to support Boeing’s 777 build rate, and it expects to run the first version of a new core for its proposed 777X engine, the GE9X, as early as 2014. The final design freeze is likely around 2015, with the first engine going into testing in the 2016 timeframe. Rolls is offering the RB3025, targeting a fuel burn more than 10% lower than the GE90-115B. This would be the first large Rolls engine to incorporate composite fan blades and casing. Ground tests of scaled blades are set for 2013 on a Trent 1000.
As well as developing upgrades for the Trent 500, 700, 800 and 900 engines, Rolls is preparing to test the Package C enhancements to the Trent 1000, the lead engine for the stretched 787-9. Certification is planned for mid-2013, when flight tests will also start on the 787-8, followed by trials on the -9. Deliveries of Package C-powered -9s will begin early in 2014, with -8 deliveries commencing in mid-2014. Rolls is also preparing for Trent XWB production rates of one engine a day eventually. The powerplant, the biggest Rolls has produced, cleared its final certification hurdles at the end of 2012.