US operating lessor AirCastle is unconvinced that any re-engined narrowbody from Airbus and Boeing will be available as quickly as has been suggested. But it believes that such developments would pose a threat to Bombardier and its new CSeries twinjet.

Airbus has indicated that if it hopes to decide on the launch of its proposed A320 upgrade by the Farnborough air show in July, and could deliver the first aircraft by the end of 2015. Any Boeing development of the 737 is likely to follow a similar timeframe.

"I think there is enough pressure on at least one of the manufacturers to do a re-engining," says AirCastle's chief executive Ron Wainshal, although he does not identify which airframer he is referring to.

Speaking at an investors' conference on 6 April, Wainshal added: "Whatever you hear from the manufacturers in a timeframe, you have to add at least one or two years for it."

AirCastle is one of the leading publicly listed leasing companies and has a portfolio of around 130 airliners, the bulk of which are Airbus and Boeing narrowbodies. Wainshal says that the company takes "seriously" the subject of re-engining the A320 and 737.

"One of the great attributes to our market is that it is a duopoly. With only two choices, you don't have a fragmented market. Along comes Bombardier, who says it is going to encroach on market. Airbus and Boeing won't build a brand new airplane but will hang new engines on - it will make anybody think twice about choosing Bombardier."

Speaking during Bombardier's full-year results briefing, chief operating officer Guy Hachey said the airframer's confidence that the all-new CSeries will prove a commercial success even if one or both the incumbents opt to re-engine their narrowbodies.

Re-engining "usually provides about half of what a new aircraft provides because there are other parts that save on the fuel burn", apart from the powerplants, he said.

The prospect of upgraded re-engined single-aisles means that AirCastle may alter the way it adds to its portfolio. Instead of acquiring used aircraft that are only a few years old, the lessor may shift to aircraft that are five to eight years old with a "safer" residual value profile, says Wainshal.

Source: Flight International