Customers will lead re-engining decision: Airbus and Boeing

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Airbus and Boeing say the market will drive their decision on whether to go ahead with single-aisle re-engining plans after Rolls-Royce urged them to concentrate on bringing all-new single-aisle replacements to the market more quickly.

The UK engine manufacturer believes that the two airframers should drop plans to introduce interim "technology refreshes" of existing narrowbodies as they could delay the introduction of new "highly integrated and optimised" aircraft.

Airbus is exploring technologies for a longer-term, all-new single-aisle replacement, but says that "airlines have made it clear that any fuel burn reductions available today would be welcome". As such it working towards a decision later this year on whether to launch the A320 "new engine option", which could equip the narrowbody family with CFM International Leap X or Pratt & Whitney PW1000G geared turbofan engines.

airbus a320 gtf, tim bicheno-brown/flightglobal
 © Tim Bicheno-Brown/Flightglobal

R-R is working on all-new two- and three-shaft civil engine families, known as "Advance2" and "Advance3", which could be available from the second half of this decade. These are not being considered by Airbus for its proposed A320 re-engining, however. The airframer's programmes chief Tom Williams said earlier this year that R-R's offering was "not a solution that works for re-engining...from either a technical or commercial point of view".

Boeing is studying three alternatives in the single-aisle sector - re-engine the 737, continue with incremental improvements or launch an all-new replacement. It will decide which path to take by the end of the year, says marketing vice-president Randy Tinseth.

"We're looking for our customers to lead us in that decision," he says. "Some airlines are saying a 15% improvement in fuel burn is a no-brainer, and at the other end of the scale are leasing companies who [want] nothing to change - ever."