Boeing’s confirmation that lessor GE Capital Aviation Services is the previously unidentified buyer of an additional 20 737 Max aircraft means that the US lessor is now the largest leasing customer for the re-engined narrowbody.

The latest order, which also includes 20 current-generation 737-800s, takes GECAS’s total orders for the Max to 95 aircraft and pushes it in front of the previous leader, Air Lease, which has commitments for 84 of the CFM International Leap-1B-powered type.

However, ILFC’s is the biggest single order for re-engined narrowbodies. Its commitment for Airbus A320neos has now swollen to 150 aircraft.

Although Boeing says the order from GECAS underlines the popularity of the 737 in leasing market, the Max still trails the Neo by around 200 airframes.

However, as the order data shows, a number of lessors – including BOC Aviation and ILFC – have so far struck deals only for the Airbus product, in all likelihood driven by the need to secure early slots for the re-engined Neo and its eight-month head-start on the Max.

Re-engined narrowbody orders by lessors 2

Most leasing industry observers believe that Boeing will have clawed back a substantial amount of Airbus’s lead in the segment by this time next year.

Equally, there are several notable lessors – among them SMBC Aviation Capital and AWAS – that are yet to place orders for either type. AerCap too has no re-engined narrowbodies on its books, but with its acquisition of ILFC proceeding there seems little or no requirement for it to strike a deal with either airframer.

Engine maker CFM International has overall supremacy in the segment thanks to the exclusivity of the Leap-1B on the 737 Max, but lessors are hedging their bets with regard to powerplant selection on the A320neo. In fact, in percentage terms, the numbers roughly mirror the broader trends in the market. For lessors, Pratt & Whitney’s geared-fan engine is marginally more popular, having secured 42% of all orders, compared with 40% for the Leap-1A, with powerplants covering a further 92 airframes still to be announced. For all orders, the PW1100G has 32% and the Leap-1A 31%, with the remaining 37% unannounced.

Lessors' A320 engine selections 4

Nonetheless, within lessor’s individual order books there are clear preferences for one engine over the other. For instance, GECAS, as you might expect given that its sister company is 50% of CFM International, has only ordered Leap-1A-equipped A320neos. However, 30 of ALC’s 50 Neos are to be powered by the Pratt & Whitney engine. ILFC, too, has come down in favour of the geared turbofan, picking it for 90 of its 150 Airbus narrowbodies.

Source: Cirium Dashboard