Safran CEO sees limited room for rival engines on new Boeing jet
By Tim Hepher
HAMBURG, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Safran expects Boeing
to decide next year which engines will power its proposed
new mid-market airliner, but the chief executive of the French
jet engine manufacturer voiced reservations about there being
room for more than one supplier.
The industry has been debating for months whether the market
is large enough to justify a new plane and if so, whether it
would also be big enough to absorb two competing engines.
"It is harder to build a business case when their are two
(engine) sources," Safran Chief Executive Philippe Petitcolin
said at the opening of a new CFM casing plant in Hamburg, adding
it would be "harder to justify a double source".
Engine choice is one of the biggest milestones Boeing faces
before deciding whether to go ahead and launch its first new jet
in over a decade - a decision it expects to make next year.
CFM International, which is co-owned by Safran and General
Electric, is expected to compete with Rolls-Royce
and United Technologies unit Pratt & Whitney to supply
engines for the new jet, which would enter service in 2025.
Aircraft manufacturers sometimes offer airlines a choice of
engine to promote competition and make it easier to fit with
existing fleets, but that depends on engine makers seeing a big
enough market to justify their costs.
CFM has an exclusive deal to supply engines for Boeing 737
narrow-body jets and competes with Pratt & Whitney on the Airbus
A320 family, giving it by far the largest share of the
single-aisle fleet that dominates global jet production.
Since the new Boeing jet would compete in part with the
larger models of single-aisle jet, CFM is widely seen as more
cautious than its rivals about disturbing the status quo.
Many in the industry expect it to take part if Boeing goes
ahead, especially if Boeing only chooses one supplier.
In July, GE Aviation CEO David Joyce said the company had
not yet managed to reconcile the various market forecasts for
the middle of the jetliner market.
The business case for engine manufacturers would depend on
how many variants Boeing plans to offer, he said.
Sources say Boeing's mid-sized jet would come in two
variants seating 225-265 people and be targeted at what Boeing
sees as a gap between the largest single-aisle jets like the
Airbus A321 and wide-body jets like its own 787.
Industry publication Air Current reported last month that
engine companies would submit bids to Boeing at the end of
December, following several rounds of discussions.
In a further sign that preparations are speeding up, two
industry sources said Boeing has also started talking to
suppliers of other equipment for the jet.
(Reporting by Tim Hepher
Editing by Alexander Smith)
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