In an unprecedented move, Pratt & Whitney is to manufacture components for an engine it competes with, the CFM56, in order to capitalize on the lucrative spares market for the General Electric/Snecma powerplant.
The first customer, United Airlines, has already signed a 10-year deal for P&W to supply components for up to 200 engines. Aviation International News understands that the U.S. manufacturer is in “fairly serious” talks with American Airlines and Lufthansa on similar long-term contracts.
P&W’s new Global Material Solutions division, headed by Matthew Bromberg, will run the operation, which is expected to generate business worth up to $50 million a year. Perhaps more significantly in the long term, the move will bring P&W closer to airlines that operate CFM56-powered Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s, both of which will eventually be replaced by new aircraft. P&W has made no secret of its intention to compete aggressively in the 120- to 180-seat market, not wanting to repeat its initial failure to develop a competitor to the CFM56.
P&W will initially manufacture components for only the CFM56-3 powering the Boeing 737-300/-400/500 series, of which there are around 4,000 engines. It will decide later on whether there is enough interest in supplying parts for the more recent CFM56s powering Airbus A320s, A340s and Boeing 737-500/600/ 700/800s. Overall, there are around 14,000 CFM56s in service.
Only 55 life-limited components of the CFM56 will be manufactured, including high-pressure turbine blades, turbine discs and other “hot end” parts. P&W will design the parts itself and claims they will be as good as or better than the existing CFM components. “We’ll be able to incorporate a lot of technology improvements that have come along since these engines were originally designed in the early 1980s,” said a company official.
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration certification of the components will be carried out in two phases, the first half due to receive approval by the end of this year, the rest in early 2007.