Flight Friday: Latest Generation Versus Legacy Engines

Safran Leap-1A engine
Credit: Safran

This week's Flight Friday takes a slightly different look at utilization by looking at the latest generation engines CFM LEAP and Pratt & Whitney GTF against the well-established “legacy” engines CFM56 and IAE V2500.

Starting with the legacy engines, for 2019, the CFM56s and the V2500s averaged 110-115 cycles per aircraft per month. After the start of the pandemic in late 2019 and early 2020, this utilization reduced to around 20 cycles per month. This figure has slowly recovered during 2022, and for the last six calendar months the CFM56/V2500-powered fleet have been averaging around 80 cycles per month.

When we study the latest generation engines, in 2019, the GTF was averaging 115 cycles per month. The data suggests that when an operator had an available latest generation-powered aircraft available, they used that aircraft rather than a legacy-powered aircraft. In 2022, the GTF returned to an average of over 100 cycles in northern hemisphere summer months, before dipping back below 100 cycles a month by the end of the year and the start of 2023. Some of this, in part, is due to supply chain difficulties and the engine’s disappointing reliability and resulting flood of unscheduled repair demand.


The LEAP tells a different tale as there were many outside factors impacting it’s fleetwide average utilization in 2019, including the grounding of the LEAP-powered 737 MAX in March. After the recertification of the MAX in December 2020, we have seen average utilization rise to around 100 cycles per month, which places it a little behind the GTF, however there are still several MAXs in storage, especially in China.

With teething issues on these latest generation engines expected to remain for the foreseeable future, it brings the legacy engines back into the fold, with operators looking at getting them booked in for major overhauls to keep them flying a little longer.

This data was put together using Aviation Week’s Tracked Aircraft Utilization tool.

Daniel Williams

Based in the UK, Daniel is the Manager of Fleet, Flight and Forecast data for Aviation Week Network. Prior to joining Aviation Week in 2017, Daniel held a number of industry positions analyzing fleet data.