Julian Moxon/PARIS

CFM International (CFMI) and Russian engine manufacturer Rybinsk Motors are discussing the setting up of a production line for CFM56-3s, which power Boeing 737-300s.

Rybinsk, which already builds some CFM56 components, is said by CFMI president Gerard Laviec to be a "good candidate" for such a move, which he says would be a "-strategic decision aimed at ensuring a strong CFMI presence in Russia". Similar initiatives are under way in China as part of the offset effort on the Airbus/ AVIC/ Singapore Technologies AE316/ AE317 family, although Laviec declines to specify which companies are involved.

Talks about re-engineing the Ilyushin Il-76 transport with CFM56s are continuing, Laviec says, but he adds that there remain questions about the cost of certification, for which Russia would have to pay. He believes that up to 1,000 new (stretched) and existing aircraft may be suitable for re-engineing, but adds that Tupolev is "still interested" in re-engineing the Tu-154 trijet.

Total CFMI sales in 1997 were around Fr4 billion ($675 million). There is a backlog of 3,000 engines, with around 730 produced in 1997, growing to more than 1,000 in 1998 "and for a few years after that". Laviec says that CFMI is "in good shape", particularly as a result of continued improvements in production efficiency. He adds, however, that 1997 was "-the first year in our history that we have not had a new engine in development". Development of the CFM56-7 for the new 737has been completed, while the CFM56-9 "Lite" still awaits an application.

The result is that the Snecma/General Electric partnership has been able to transfer staff formerly employed in research and development to the production side, "-where our resources are most needed", says Laviec.

He insists, however, that CFMI is "thinking of the future", and aiming to avoid what he calls the "JT8 Syndrome", which saw Pratt &Whitney, with a virtual monopoly on engines for medium-range airliners, failing to maintain its market dominance.

The Snecma/General Electric partnership has also stressed its aim of retaining leadership in the market to power 100- to 200-seat aircraft, which Laviec says will account for around 70% of its sales in the next six or seven years. Responding to Pratt &Whitney's aim of developing a new geared-fan engine as a CFM56 competitor, Laviec says: "We shall be very vigilant-we do not intend to lose our lead."

CFMI is looking at "all of the possibilities", but Laviec rules out a move to geared fans. "The basic configuration of the CFM56 will remain unchanged," he says.

Source: Flight International