Leahy supplies details of possible re-engined A320

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Airbus COO of customers John Leahy stresses that evaluations of a re-engined A320 are continuing, but, if the programme is launched, the aircraft will be "an option to the existing airplane".

Speaking at the ISTAT annual conference in Orlando, Florida, Leahy says if Airbus chooses to re-engine the A319/A320/A321 product line with new engine offerings from CFM and International Aero Engines, the aircraft will feature sharklets and will likely need a strengthened wing.

Airbus management expects to receive a report by the end of April from 14 engineering teams currently studying various impacts of re-engining including the impact on the leading edge of the wings and thrust reversers.

Leahy warns that Airbus rival Boeing would make a huge mistake to announce a new narrowbody clean sheet design if Airbus unveils a re-engine scheme.

If Boeing were to introduce a new aircraft in the 2017 or 2018 timeframe, Leahy believes the aircraft would only slightly modify current technology, and wouldn't have the 20-30 year staying power necessary to ensure commercial success of an aircraft programme.

Leahy is holding high-level meetings this week to continue discussions of the re-engine, and says if Airbus firms up plans to launch the product, it would be introduced as an option for customers at the end of 2015.

The Airbus executive continues to press IAE partners Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce to resolve their philosophical difference and offer an engine for a re-engined A320 with their consortium partners MTU and Japanese Aero Engines.

Airbus has no interest in a stand-alone offering by Pratt & Whitney of its PW1000G geared turbofan scheduled to power the Bombardier CSeries, the Mitsubishi MRJ and the Irkut MS-21.

"We want the two [P&W and R-R] to sit down and iron out their differences," says Leahy, who adds "if Pratt and IAE can't get their act together, they can't get their act together."

P&W has recently said if it can't come to terms with its IAE partners, it is willing to go alone in offering the PW1000G on the re-engined and new narrowbody designs.