One of the key Asia-Pacific commercial battles unfolding this year is literally a power struggle – between engine-makers. Powerplant manufacturers are keen to sew up big deals with the region’s fast-growing airlines, which are getting ready for delivery of a wave of new ­narrowbody jets.

As in other regions, CFM International’s 40% market share puts it head and shoulders above its rivals, owing to the popularity of its venerable CFM56 – the exclusive powerplant for Boeing 737s that also drives roughly half of the global fleet of Airbus A320 family aircraft. CFM’s dominance of the narrowbody sector as a whole seems reasonably secure. When the next-generation 737 Max enters service, CFM will retain type exclusivity with its Leap 1B, and the engine manufacturer is also in a prime position when it comes to the A320 upgrade: the company is sole engine supplier for regional major AirAsia’s growing A320 fleet, and has a deal to supply Leap-1A engines to power the 264 A320neos it has on order.

This year, CFM will also gain Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) regional subsidiary Silk Air as a customer, when it starts taking delivery of CFM56-powered 737s. Those aircraft will replace its fleet of 24 International Aero Engines V2500-powered A320s and A319s.

However, IAE supplies key A320 operators in the region such as Jetstar Asia, Philippine Airlines, Bangkok Airways and Tigerair.

So one of the most anxiously-awaited contract decisions will come from Lion Air, which has 234 A320-family aircraft on order. IAE has nothing to offer the 174 Neo variants in that package, but the others remain.

Sources close to the airline tell Flight International an announcement is expected shortly, likely coinciding with the Singapore air show.

Things get really interesting in the choice for A320neo operators between CFM and Pratt & Whitney, whose PurePower-geared turbofan technology is giving the narrowbody sector leader a run for its money. Philippine Airlines and Garuda Indonesia’s budget subsidiary Citilink also have A320-family aircraft with unannounced engine orders. However, Citilink has already committed to Leap-1As for some of its A320neo backlog.

P&W scored something of a coup when Philippines carrier Cebu Pacific chose the engine for the 30 A321neos that it has on order, despite having CFM56s on its existing A319s and A320s.

Nevertheless, CFM has also been successful in encouraging operators of IAE powered A320s to make the switch to the Leap-1A. Jetstar Asia and Jetstar Pacific for example, will operate some of the 71 Leap-1A powered A320neos that have been ordered by Qantas.

Despite that competition, P&W remains confident that it will continue to be a strong contender in the Southeast Asian market.

“We have maintained a lead on Airbus A320neo engine orders, with more than 50% of announced and unannounced orders,” says Asia-Pacific and China vice president sales Mary Ellen Jones. “We’re very pleased that operators and leasing companies in Asia and other parts of the world recognise the many benefits of the geared turbofan.”


In the widebody space, Rolls-Royce’s Trent series of engines is by far the dominant engine in southeast Asia, and it has also sold strongly on new-generation aircraft such as the 787 and A350.

R-R and SIA have had a particularly long and fruitful partnership.

The airline, via its SIA Engineering maintenance arm, is a partner with the manufacturer in Singapore Aero Engine Services. Consequently, SAESL provides support for most R-R engines in the region.

Longer term, R-R’s share is projected to grow strongly as SIA and Thai take delivery of a number of Trent XWB-powered A350s. Both carriers have also ordered Trent 1000s for their 787s, practically locking the General Electric GEnx out of the region.

Despite the lack of GEnx operators in the region, GE has been able to maintain a respectable market share due to the strong penetration of the GE90-powered 777-300ER into the region. There are also 38 CF6-powered aircraft operating in the region.

P&W has been able to hold its own in the widebody market, with PW4000 engines powering aircraft including A330s and ­777-200ERs variously operated by Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways and Vietnam Airlines. However, as older aircraft such as 747-400s and A300s exit service, its market share is­ ­expected to diminish.

Source: Flight International