India ‘very promising market’; to deliver 1,000 engines in coming years, says CFM International

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New Delhi | Updated: October 12, 2018 10:35 AM

Describing India as a "very promising market", aircraft engine maker CFM International Thursday said it plans to deliver 1,000 engines in the country in the coming years as airlines expand their fleet.

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Describing India as a “very promising market”, aircraft engine maker CFM International Thursday said it plans to deliver 1,000 engines in the country in the coming years as airlines expand their fleet. The company, an equal joint venture between General Electric and Safran Aircraft Engines, would asses the needs and capacity addition, among other aspects, before deciding on whether to make engines in India, a senior official said. India, aviation industry, aircraft engine, maker, CFM International, Air India, A320 neo, indigo, go air

Currently, four domestic airlines operate planes with CFM’s LEAP engines, including Air India’s 21 A320 neo aircraft. These engines power nine A320 neos of Vistara. Jet Airways and SpiceJet operate five and one Boeing 737 MAX planes that run on LEAP engines. These figures are as on September 30, according to CFM International.

LEAP started commercial operations with A320 neo aircraft in 2016. “It (India) is a very promising market,” CFM International’s Executive Vice President Sales and Marketing Philippe Couteaux said at a media briefing here.

According to the CFM International, 1,000 engines are to be delivered in India in the coming years. As many as 500 CFM 56 engines are in service with 11 operators in India. LEAP is the successor to the CFM 56 engines.

Earlier this year, SpiceJet inked a pact with CFM International for “engine/ service contract supporting 300 plus LEAP-1B”, as per the company. Vistara has signed a Letter of Intent for 50 additional “A320/321 neo powered by LEAP-1A”. About its engines, CFM International’s President and CEO Gael Meheust said “we are meeting the performance” and it has a backlog of around 16,000 engines.

“As much as we are accumulating hours and cycles, we had 2.3 million hours already on the LEAP… This is sustainable in time and that has a value of course for any customers who are thinking of renewing their current generation fleet or adding capacity. There is a power of attraction of course with incredible results we are seeing in the LEAP now,” he said.

In response to questions about competition in the market, he said some airlines are willing to order additional aircraft to meet the demand. “Before making the choice of going with the same incumbent, they always think what could be the alternatives. That is a natural process… there is an opportunity,” he noted.

Competitor Pratt & Whitney is facing issues with its engines that power A320 neos, including many in India. IndiGo and GoAir have A320 neos that are powered by P&W engines. These two airlines also have A320 planes that run on CFM engines. “IndiGo, GoAir … they know CFM. They know how the LEAP behaves… we have that relationship… All the topics are on the table,” Meheust said.

Responding to queries on whether the company would look at manufacturing engines in the country, Couteaux said General Electric and Safran are already present in India through different means. “Given the market that exists in India, there is always a consideration that if you need additional footprints… We need to assess the need and the capacity, then we will take the decisions on whether it is relevant to do it in India or somewhere else. It is an assessment that needs to be done,” he said.

India is one of the fastest growing domestic aviation markets in the world and local carriers have placed large orders for aircraft as they expand their fleet to meet the rising demand.

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