A question mark hanging over American Airlines big single-aisle airplane order is which supplier will get the nod for both its current A320 family and A320NEO engine orders.
But CFM International is likely in the lead for that business, which will account for nearly 2,000 engines if all options are exercised and the full order of 925 airplanes comes to fruition. As it stands American has selected 100 737NGs and 100 new engine 737s plus 130 A320s and 130 A320NEOs (new engine option) for a total 640 “firm” orders.
Half the Boeing order depends on approval of the new engine 737 by the board of directors at a meeting set for sometime in August. CFM will be the sole engine supplier for that airplane from its Leap-X program. It also will get all the 737NG orders with the CFM56-7BE.
A Pratt & Whitney official said the company was not asked to compete for the Boeing re-engining program.
American has not announced an engine choice for any of the Airbus airplanes it intends to buy. Since the airline has not previously been an A320 customer, it has no history in current single-aisle engine offerings to build from as it does with Boeing’s 737 program.
Airbus offers a choice of CFM International CFM56-5B and International Aero Engines IAEV2500 on the basic A320 family. Pratt is a partner in IAE.
For the A320NEO, Airbus’ engine choice is between CFM’s Leap-X and Pratt’s PW1100G.
From a commonality perspective, CFM’s offerings are the only ones offered across all four aircraft models – the 737NG, new engine 737, A320 and A320NEO.
The chance that Pratt might be shut out is ironic since its development of the geared turbofan for the PW1100G series helped prompt the renaissance of single-aisle offerings now appearing in the market. Only Pratt was willing to build an engine for the Bombardier CSeries, which challenges Airbus and Boeing at the bottom end of their single-aisle markets.
Pratt subsequently added Russia’s Irkut MS-21, another single-aisle challenger, to its geared turbofan customer stable before being selected by Airbus as an engine choice on the NEO.
For its part, CFM won early recognition for its Leap technology on the Comac C919, for which it holds 200 orders. But it wasn’t until the NEO appeared that the Leap began building market share, and all of that came at June’s Paris air show, when it took the lion’s share of NEO engine orders.
According to a CFM official, to date the joint venture company holds 910 orders for the Leap-X1A to power 455 A320NEOs from seven customers. These represents 45% of all announced NEO orders and 63% of all orders for which an engine selection has been made.
With American’s new engine 737 order, Leap powers about 40% of all announced airplane orders, CFM says.