Julian Moxon/PARIS

Snecma is mounting a determined effort to double its share of the increasingly lucrative market for maintaining CFM56 engines, competing head-on with its CFM International partner General Electric.

Through its Snecma Services division, formed in January, the French manufacturer says that it intends to raise its market share from 8%in 1996 to 15% by 2000, directly competing with GE, which holds 50% of the market.

While CFM56 sales are divided geographically between the two partners, Snecma Services vice-president Pierre Cognet says that there is no such agreement for dividing up the maintenance market, saying: "We can sell our maintenance services anywhere in the world."

Cognet adds that the planned growth is worth around Fr400 million ($67 million) in extra business. "Ido not see why it should stop there," he says. "This market will continue growing for a very long time."

More than 8,000 CFM56s are in service today, powering the twin-engined Airbus A320 family and Boeing 737 series, as well as the Airbus A340, McDonnell Douglas DC-8-70 and military Boeing C-135 models. About 750 engines are due to be delivered in 1997, increasing to 1,000 a year by the end of the century.

The fleet utilisation figure exceeded 100 million hours in mid-November, and Cognet points out that the fleet is "still very young in terms of maintenance requirements". He adds that many airlines are backing away from maintaining their own engines as they become more focused on cost-efficiency.

"We also feel that the increasingly tough technical requirements for maintenance, especially the documentation, are pushing the airlines towards using specialist companies," says Cognet.

Snecma Services was formed from the old Sochata subsidiary, and now shares the same Paris headquarters as the Snecma Group. The new company aims to offer a "complete service" to customers, says Cognet, including engine leasing, inventory and fleet management.

The recent closure of the US Airways deal for 120 Airbuses, plus a further 280 on option, led to an unusual agreement between GE and Snecma Services under which GE contracts 25% of the maintenance business to Snecma Services, increasing to 35% for the optioned engines.

"It happened because the contract is so big and US Airways wanted a common proposal on maintenance," says Cognet.

Snecma also helped finance the engine deal, one of the biggest ever concluded. The resulting business "will have no impact" on the 2000 target, says Cognet, because most will be delivered after that date.

Source: Flight International