General Electric expects to produce more than 500 CF34 engines in 2003, around double the number for 2001 and the highest single-year tally since the regional jet engine programme began in 1992.

The high production rate builds from the 1998-2001 orderbook, when GE won commitments for more than 400 engines a year over the period. Orders tumbled, however, to just over 100 in 2002, before showing signs of recovery earlier this year.

The delivery increase dovetails with the ramp-up of CF34-8C1s on Bombardier CRJ700s, CF34-8C5s on the CRJ900 and the first production batches of CF34-8Es for the Embraer 170/175. The company forecasts that order and production tallies will continue to build year-on-year, with around 2,500 CF34 engines expected to be in service by 2005 compared with around 1,500 at present. GE predicts an "opportunity" for a CF34 fleet of around 4,000 engines by 2010-11.

GE is also getting its Boeing 747 flying testbed ready to accept the first CF34-10 in the third quarter and has taken delivery of the strut adaptor from Middle River Aircraft Systems that will attach the test engine to the No 2 position. The engine is due to enter service on the Embraer 190 with Swiss in 2004, and forms the basis for the -10A being developed for China's ARJ21 regional jet. Joint definition of the ARJ21 is due for completion by year-end, with service entry set for 2007.

GE is also exploring a series of possible upgrades to the CF34-3A1/B1 engines in service on the CRJ100/200, and is testing improved stage one and two high-pressure turbine nozzle and shroud components that will be available for retrofit in 2004.

Source: Flight International