Airbus to announce re-engine decision by end of year

A decision on replacing the engines on the A320 family of aircraft is likely to be made at the end of this year, according  to Airbus chief commercial officer, John Leahy.

The announcement is a delay on the previously expected mid-year decision by Airbus following inconclusive discussions with engine manufacturers, Pratt & Whitney and CFM International.

Speaking at an event at the group’s Broughton plant, Leahy said that a re-engining option by 2025 remained attractive but would have to fit in with the group’s overall engineering strategy.

‘If you want to rush out and build a airplane based on today’s engines, you could but why would you- it’ll cost $10 to $12bn…there is still a case to be made on behalf of the re-engined plane.’

Airlines are in favour of the re-engining option, costing around $1bn, as they believe it will reduce both emissions and noise. Others in the aviation industry are concerned that another variant will add complexity and lower the value of existing fleets.

But with pressure mounting on both Airbus and Boeing to cut fuel consumption, and with thousands of single-aisle orders still pending, a re-engining option remains on the table.

Ian Dawkins, senior vice president of Strategy and Future Programmes said: ‘Beyond 2025, we’re looking at something very very different with engines… We’re running wind tunnel tests and we’re trying to understand what is actually feasible and how we can certify something like this. Some of these engines do give a significant improvement on where we are today and we’re not just talking single digit improvements.’

Leahy believes that if a decision is made in favour of re-engining the A320 family, rivals Boeing will follow with a replacement engine for the 737 next year.

However, speculation still surrounds Boeing’s ambitions to launch a new ‘clean sheet’ airplane instead of a new engine option, which would be 10 times more expensive. Leahy said that these plans should be taken with ‘a pinch of salt’.