MRO Memo: Out With The New, In With The Old

Aviation Week forecast data estimates 50% of the in-service narrowbody engine fleet next year will be CFM56 family engines.

Credit: CFM International

This year has breathed new life into older equipment as airlines have tried to mitigate new aircraft delivery delays, supply chain and labor bottlenecks, and the durability problems of new engines.

This trend was most pronounced in the narrowbody market, as operators extended leases and service lives of older Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 aircraft they had intended to move on, but demand for mid-life widebody aircraft also picked up due to a recovery in international travel and to factory delays of new models.

Aviation Week Network’s Commercial Fleet & MRO Forecast 2024 predicts steady growth for narrowbody aircraft and engines after the global in-service fleet dipped by roughly 3,000 units to 13,600 aircraft in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged.

In 2024 it should rise to just more than 20,000 aircraft, increasing to 31,000 over the following decade. Of the engines in service in 2024, meanwhile, roughly 50% will be the CFM56, 20% will be the CFM Leap, 13% the IAE V2500 and 11% the Pratt & Whitney PW1000G family. Ten years later, Aviation Week forecasts that control of the narrowbody engine market will have changed to: 52% Leap, 23% CFM56, 20% PW1000G and 6% V2500.

Although the widebody market has taken longer to recover than has narrowbody demand, Aviation Week forecasts that the in-service widebody fleet will exceed the 2019 peak of almost 5,900 aircraft in 2024.

Consistent with this recovery, Aviation Week expects almost 500 widebody engines to return from storage in 2024, followed by 150 in 2025 and 60 in 2026. These returns will be needed, since Aviation Week does not expect new widebody deliveries to exceed pre-pandemic highs of almost 400 units per year at any point over the next decade.

Within the 2024 fleet, the most popular engine will be the General Electric CF6, with 2,600 units in service. This is followed by the GE90 with 2,300, the GEnx with 2,100, the Rolls-Royce Trent 700 with 1,400 and the Trent XWB with 1,300.

For more analysis of the latest Aviation Week forecast and what it means for the engine maintenance market, see the forthcoming Engine Yearbook 2024.

Alex Derber

Alex Derber, a UK-based aviation journalist, is editor of the Engine Yearbook and a contributor to Aviation Week and Inside MRO.