Airbus has dubbed its studies into a possible re-engining of its A320 Family as ‘NEO’ – for New Engine Options – as it closes on a decision on whether to embark on an interim narrowbody upgrade pending a more permanent replacement in the mid to late 2020s.
Airbus COO Customers, John Leahy, told media at the company’s annual Innovation Days briefings at Broughton in north Wales that the company hopes to have more news on its intentions by July’s Farnborough Airshow, but would definitely decide on how it goes forward by the end of 2010.
Any enhancement to the A320 Family by adding Pratt & Whitney’s geared turbofan PW1000G or CFM’s CFM56 Leap-X engines as an option to the current airframe would need to realise fuel savings in the order of 13-15 per cent or between US$5m and US$9m (A$5.55m to A$10m) per aircraft year in order to be viable, Leahy said. He added that ongoing work to improve the aircraft’s efficiency such as the addition of ‘sharklet’ wing extensions and other aerodynamic and cabin enhancements would continue throughout the aircraft’s production life. Leahy noted that he expected any efforts to re-engine the A320 to be keenly watched by airlines, but doubted the manufacturer would rely on a large launch order before proceeding.
Earlier, Airbus’s head of programs, Tom Williams, said one of Airbus’s key targets if it proceeded with the NEO would be to prevent Bombardier’s CSeries and its likely growth derivatives from gaining too much traction in the market before an all-new single-aisle Airbus ‘A30X’ becomes available. “We will not allow them to build significant market penetration,” he said.
Airbus says it doubts Boeing will develop an all-new replacement for its 737 line by 2020 as the US manufacturer has suggested in recent weeks. Leahy said he understood any new engine technology required to achieve efficiency gains of 30 to 40 per cent which are required to justify the investment in an all-new aircraft would not be available that soon, saying that the 2025 timeframe or beyond was more likely, hence Airbus’s exploration of the A320 re-engine option from 2015. Leahy added that he expected Boeing would probably come to the same conclusion and reveal its intention to proceed with a re-engined 737 sometime next year.