Forecasting order announcements for engines worth up to $10 billion by the end of this week’s Farnborough International airshow, GE Aviation president and chief executive David Joyce described the atmosphere so far as “more subdued” than the “wild” Paris Air Show last year, but nevertheless still “very positive.” Joyce cited backlogs of “six to seven years” for General Electric’s widebody-airliner engines, with outstanding orders for its CFM International joint venture with Safran covering “four to five” years’ production.
With GE ramping-up manufacturing rates to match buoyant market requirements, he expects to see an almost 10-percent production increase for GE, CFMI and the GE/Pratt & Whitney Engine Alliance (EA) commercial powerplants this year, from 2,200 in 2011 to 2,400, and a similar 200-unit growth next year to 2,600 engines. Widebody-engine deliveries are said to have doubled since 2009 to this year’s planned 480, with production of 564 foreseen in 2013.
The workhorse CFM56 remains the “key production driver,” according to GE, accounting for 1,400 of last year’s engines, with up to 1,600 such units earmarked for manufacture in 2014. There are some 26,000 GE, CFMI and EA engines in service, a population expected to increase to 45,000 by 2020.
Confirming the continuing “outstanding performance” by its new GEnx engine, GE Aviation has deployed 60 field service engineers to meet all arriving Boeing 787 and 747-8 flights to ensure a smooth entry into service. With close to 100 such powerplants said to be performing “extremely well” in the field, by early this month they had welcomed more than 2,100 flights at almost 50 airports in nearly 30 countries.
GEnx engines have accumulated 130,000 plus flight hours and more than 28,000 flight cycles since entering service last October, according to program general manager Chuck Nugent. More than 140 are planned for 2012 production, with 200 engines scheduled for next year and an annual capacity for 300 expected in the next few years.
As GEnx maturation continues, GE Aviation will continue tests to accumulate an additional 25,000 cycles by 2016, equal to about 20 years’ actual service. It will have conducted five shop visits on the maturation engine before the first such exercise on a customer unit.
The established GE90 engine that powers all Boeing 777s has been celebrating the passage of milestones with more than 1,400 now in service, accumulation of more than 30 million flight-hours and delivery of 1,000 GE90-115B models since entry-into-service eight years ago. Last year, GE Aviation received operator commitments covering 400 engines, exceeding 2007’s previous record level of 250 units. The company expects to produce more than 180 GE90 engines this year, up from 170 in 2011, with production expected to climb to 225 engines in 2014.