Next week’s anticipated order bonanza at the Paris air show will help underscore increasing production rates , and others are embarking on, but several big industrial questions will take longer to answer.
Order activity in advance of the show already is heralding the surge in aircraft buying expected to unfold next week—rolled out a couple of deals for its narrowbody; Airbus and Cebu Pacific announced a deal for (new engine options) narrowbodies, and the confirmed a memorandum of understanding for five aircraft. Moreover, turboprop maker says it will announce a half-year order intake record next week.
Of greater long-term importance could be the product decisions due to emerge. Airbus will unveil changes to itsprogram, which will alter the performance parameters and design of the -1000. As part of that package, a schedule delay is expected, although the aircraft maker hopes to preserve a 2013 entry into service of the lead model, the -900.
The Airbus decisions will directly impact Boeing, which says its choice on how to improve the 777 are contingent on what its rival devises. Smaller and more extensive modifications to the 777 widebody are under consideration.
Even though Boeing has said it will not make a decision on its narrowbody plans at Paris, the signals coming out of Chicago appear to suggest the New Small Airplane (NSA)—with a 2019 in-service date—may be winning out over re-engining the 737. Airbus officials dismiss such talk, however, arguing that it is bluster and that Boeing eventually will settle on its own NEO. The strategic positioning game between the airframers is linked directly to the fierce battle playing out among engine suppliers.
In the mid-thrust arena, this will center on the struggle for the A320NEO market between CFM's Leap and Pratt & Whitney'sgeared turbofan. The tightly fought contest is heating up following the June 15 launch of the Leap engine on the A320NEO with 's order for 30, and an additional set of deals is likely to be announced at Paris.
Pratt also hopes to reveal additional business for the PW1000G family, which is entering an intense development phase for Bombardier's CSeries and Mitsubishi Regional Jet. The GTF variant for the CSeries, meanwhile, is expected to make its first flight imminently on Pratt's 747SP flying testbed in Mirabel, Canada.
The mid-thrust battle also faces continued uncertainty as Boeing considers its options on the 737. Although full re-engining seems unlikely, Boeing is openly discussing other alternatives to bridge the gap to the emergence of a possible all-new NSA. These include additional improvements to the-7BE.
In the high-thrust arena, Airbus andare expected to unveil details of plans to add more thrust to the for the A350-1000. This is likely to mean a slip in the expected service entry date of the larger member of the A350 family.
The development of a new 98,000 lb.-thrust engine is also expected to raise interesting options for Boeing as it considers development options for the 777 family, and possibly its successor.