CFM International chief executive Gael Meheust believes an all-new airliner incorporating step-change engine technology could be introduced in just over a decade, but says the architecture would be driven by the airframe's design and integration.
The GE-Safran joint venture dominates in the single-aisle sector with its Leap turbofan, which exclusively powers the Boeing 737 Max and has a 63% market share on the Airbus A320neo, says Meheust.
"The Leap as we know it today will benefit from improvements over time, just as the CFM56 has," he says. "The question is, when is there going to be the next generation of airplane?
"We see that in the early 2030s. We think it might be when there is a new generation of aircraft that would require a step improvement in engines. But we are preparing ourselves for all sorts of scenarios that we do not control – the airframers control that."
Meheust says the engine's configuration and layout would be dependent on the design of the airframe application, as the powerplant's installation is a "key factor in determining the architecture".
He notes: "We are working with the airframers to determine what would be the optimum. But at the end the day that their decision and depending on the airframe itself we will decide which architecture makes more sense."
Meanwhile, CFM is continuing the Leap production ramp-up as it transitions from the CFM56. Some 2,000 engines are being delivered this year, including 1,800 Leaps. Production of the Leap engine is then set to stabilise at around 2,000 units per year from 2020, says Meheust.
As CFM56 production has been winding down, the final commercial -7 engine was delivered to Boeing earlier this year for the 737NG and the last -5B is scheduled to go to Airbus for the A320ceo in May 2020. Production of the legacy engine will then continue at low levels for military 737s and spare engines, before concluding in around 2024.