Engine selection by Indian carrier IndiGo for its potential A320neo order is under heavy scrutiny as it could usher in one of the first competitive campaigns for the CFM Leap X and Pratt & Whitney's PW1100G geared turbofan.

Airbus has unveiled a memorandum of understanding with IndiGo covering 150 of the new A320neo variant and 30 basic A320 models.

Key to the A320neo's estimated 15% in fuel savings is the two engine types Airbus has selected for the aircraft. The CFM Leap X features a two-stage high-pressure turbine driving a 10-stage high pressure compressor, and low-pressure turbine blades produced using ceramic matrix composite. Its bypass ratio should be around 10 compared with 5-6 for the current CFM56 family.

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P&W's geared architecture on the 1100G allows the front fan to spin three times slower than the core, which the manufacturer says optimizes the speed of each section of the engine. P&W believes the PW1100G should produce a 15% to 20% improvement in fuel burn.

Flighglobal's ACAS database shows that IndiGo currently operates 33 Airbus A320s powered by IAE V2500s, which are also scheduled to power the 62 firm A320s the airline has order.

With no direct allegiance to either CFM or P&W, Indigo's engine selection for the A320neo is difficult to predict. P&W is a joint venture partner in the V2500's manufacturer IAE along with Rolls-Royce, MTU and Japanese Aero Engine Corporation.

IndiGo was mentioned on a list of potential A320neo customers by Airbus chief operating officer for customers John Leahy in December 2010. In May of 2010 ATI reported that IndiGo was seeking government approval to acquire 150 aircraft for its expansion plan.

Other potential customers interested in the A320neo mentioned by Leahy are Lufthansa, AirAsia, Qatar Airways and lessors International Lease Finance Corporation and GECAS.

Airbus has previously said the A320neo's list price would be around $6 million higher than existing models to support modifications to the airframe and for the addition of 'sharklet' wingtips. The 2010 list price for an A320 was $81.4 million.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news