IN FOCUS: Farnborough brings crucial phase in Airbus/Boeing narrowbody battle

Washington DC
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 Boeing

Strictly as a matter of strategic clarity, the entire narrowbody aircraft market sector this year owes something of a debt to Boeing's board of directors. It was their decision last year to finally give Jim Albaugh - president of the airframer's commercial aircraft division - the approval he sought, after a seemingly agonising assessment process, to shelve plans to launch a single-aisle aircraft and instead spend six years developing a new version of the 737 with CFM International Leap-1B engines.

Like finding the missing piece in a jigsaw puzzle, all the other undecided strategic matters in the narrowbody sector - a segment expected to yield more than 23,000 aircraft deliveries during the next 20 years - quickly fell into place.

It all began when Boeing's board launched the 737 Max on 30 August. By October, a long-running tussle between Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce over its current narrowbody market offering - the International Aero Engines (IAE) V2500 - was quickly tidied up. P&W moved to assume control of the IAE joint venture, with Rolls-Royce joining Japan Aircraft Engines and MTU Aero as subcontractors...

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