"When the customers are happy with you, then they come back to you." That's an observation by Gerard Laviec, CFM International's president and chief executive officer.

CFM's overwhelmingly strong position in the narrowbody market seems to bear that out, but what Laviec now has to concentrate on is maintaining that customer loyalty as the engine manufacturer looks to the next century.

Already, the competition is lining up plans to drive a wedge into CFM's powerful marketshare.

Laviec says he is not surprised at the recent news that Pratt & Whitney has launched a new engine, the PW8000, that is aimed at the narrowbody market. "We were expecting it," remarks Laviec.


"When you have 85% of the world's single-aisle market, then you can be sure they are looking at that. Now, the challenge to us is good because challenge always makes you progress. So we are pleased to challenge what Pratt will do."

CFM, a joint venture between US-based General Electric and France-based Snecma, last year sold 1,150 CFM56 turbofans worth some $5 billion. The engine's success has been boosted considerably by its exclusive position on the Boeing 737, but sales for the Airbus A319/A320/A321 have also been strong.

Laviec insists that when the time comes to launch a new product for future narrowbodies, CFM will be ready. But he does not believe the time is right yet.

"Pratt is talking about a new application being available as early as 2002. We don't see a need yet for a new application for this size of airplane.

"We think 2002 will be just on the eve of a downturn. We don't know how steep it will be, but it makes me think that 2002 will be too early.

"But you can be sure, if there is an application, we will be ready for it."

Laviec's appetite for exclusive deals, such as that on the 737, is undiminished. "With the competition today, having an exclusive deal is good for all of us. It's good for the customer, for the airframe manufacturer and for the engine manufacturer," he says. "We can bring better support to the airlines - seamless support."

The 24-year partnership of GE and Snecma is another company strength that will pay dividends in the next century, says Laviec.

"If you look at all the other joint ventures and you look at all the shareholders of those ventures, they are always complaining about their partners. You never hear that about GE and Snecma. This is built on a solid foundation - we are a family," he says.

That "family" has recently drawn up a blueprint from which future offspring may be defined. A series of multi-million-dollar technology feasibility studies will help CFM hone a wish-list of future new and enhanced products.

A key focus will be maintenance cost reduction, with the aim of driving this by between 15% and 20%.

Among its studies, CFM will also look at a low-noise, high-speed, wide-chord fan and at one-piece aluminium case containment design.

Source: Flight Daily News