The General Electric/ Snecma alliance CFM International (CFMI) won orders for 1,314 CFM56 engines in 1997, selling more for 100-seat-plus aircraft than all other large-civil-engine manufacturers combined.

Although there is some dispute over the exact figure for the year, with some independent analysts claiming that the figure should be 1,034 without the inclusion of the large American Airlines order, which straddled the year-end period of 1996, the result compares favourably with that of 1996, a year when CFMI chalked up a record 1,280 sales.

CFMI is believed to be contemplating a further rise in production rates following the sales boom, much of which is directly linked to the success of Boeing's Next Generation 737 family. CFMI plans to build 920 engines in 1998, compared with 750 in 1997, but may step this up to more than 1,000 in 1999, following a rash of recent Airbus and Boeing sales.

Arch-rival International Aero Engines (IAE) had a year of ups and downs, with the sale of 226 engines for the Airbus A320 family, some 160 of which were tied to the massive order from International Lease Finance. IAE says that its $1.6 billion firm orderbook is for slightly more engines than 1996's record year, and it now claims 34% of the A320 market over which it competes with CFMI.

The company suffered a setback, however, in November 1997, when Boeing decided to close down production of the MD-90, for which the V2500 is the sole powerplant.

In the larger thrust bracket, fortunes were mixed, with Rolls-Royce coming out slightly ahead for the first time in the top thrust category through Trent sales. Trent 800 sales for the Boeing 777 in the year accounted for 54 of the UK engine maker's 286 Trent-family firm orders in 1997, with the Airbus A330's Trent 700 accounting for 72 units and the A340-500/600's Trent 500 totalling 160. R-R also sold some 132 RB.211 units, including 90 -524s (Boeing 747/Boeing 767) and 42 -535s (Boeing 757/Tupolev Tu-204).

Pratt & Whitney, meanwhile, sold 20 PW4080/90 engines for the 777 family, out of a total of 128 firm big-fan-engine sales. A further 52 were sold in the sub-223kN (50,000lb)-thrust category (PW2000 and JT8D-200).

General Electric matched R-R in the big-fan sales stakes, taking orders for up to 286 CF6 and GE90 engines, according to the US company. Of this tally, 42 were GE90s while the balance were CF6 models. Independent sources suggest that the figure may be closer to 159 CF6 sales, depending on what late year-end sales are included.

GE declines to confirm that $2.3 billion in "special charges", referred to in write-offs revealed in GE Corporation's annual earning statement on 21 January, includes write-off payments on the GE90. GE will say only that, "if it is part of a write-off, it will only make the programme stronger", and emphasises that it "-is not cancelling the programme".

Source: Flight International