As Airbus prepares to flight test Pratt & Whitney's GTF geared turbofan demonstrator with the view to a possible re-engined A320 development, Boeing has hinted that it would not rule out a similar move with the 737.

The GTF is undergoing a brief flight trial on Airbus's A340-600 testbed, beginning this month. And at Farnborough in July Airbus hinted that it could respond to the emerging threat of the PW1000G GTF-powered Bombardier CSeries with a GTF-powered A320 derivative.

Such a programme would be relatively straightforward, given the installation of the A320's current powerplants and its relatively tall gear, despite the GTF's larger fan diameter. The 737's shorter gear makes a GTF re-engining more problematic, but Boeing is quick to point out that its engineers say that it would not be impossible.

"Anything is technically feasible and we continue to look at everything - including engine products under development - that will enhance the 737," says the airframer. "That's not to say we'll definitely re-engine, but it certainly one of many things we consider."

This Flight artist's impression shows what a GTF-powered 737-800 could look like 
One option the company has examined to enable the GTF to fit under the 737's wing would be to slightly tilt the nacelle up at the fan case.

Boeing has stated previously that it was "watching engine developments closely", including the GTF, as it evaluates how it will develop the current 737 family ahead of the arrival of an all-new single-aisle replacement over a decade from now.

Airbus executives said at Farnborough that a GTF-powered A320 could be developed within 24-30 months of deciding on the move. However they warned that "a lot depends on how that engine programme looks" and that they would "wait and see what the data tells us" from the A340 tests.

Source: Flight International