Two-Speed Engines

LEAP engine flight cycles stood at around 70% last year, having approached 2019 levels earlier in the year.

For all the uncertainties about the coronavirus crisis and the trajectory of aviation’s recovery, one early assumption has held true: that narrowbody traffic would recover faster than widebody services. 

In places such as Europe and North America, buoyed by surging vaccination programs, some big short-haul carriers returned to positive cash generation in the latter part of 2021. 

The devastation of long-haul networks, in contrast, did not abate as key hubs around the world remained closed to most international traffic.

This meant another year to forget for widebody engine manufacturers and maintenance companies as deliveries and shop visits stalled.

There was better news in the narrowbody engine sector, at least in some regions, as engines returned to service, although overhaul demand continued to be affected by retirements and the cannibalization of equipment grounded by airlines with excess capacity.

Aviation Week Network’s 2022 Fleet & MRO Forecast predicts that more than 600 narrowbody engines and almost 350 widebody engines will be retired in 2022.

Thereafter, widebody engine retirements will average about 400 per year, while narrowbody powerplants will average about 1,000, peaking around 2026 at about 1,250.

Aviation Week predicts about 2,500 new narrowbody engine deliveries in 2022, at a split of roughly two parts CFM to one part Pratt & Whitney.

This implies a steep acceleration from 2021, when deliveries were hit by both industry crisis and Boeing processing its large inventory of whitetail 737 MAX aircraft accumulated during that aircraft’s long grounding. 

In the first six months of 2021, CFM delivered about 450 engines, but it will need to shift twice that number in the same period next year to keep on track to hit Aviation Week’s delivery forecast.

For a full analysis of engine deliveries, shop visits and retirements over the next decade, see the forthcoming Engine Yearbook 2022.

Alex Derber

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