Engine makers: 3. GE / CFMI

From:         Andrew Chuang <chuanga@iia.org>
Date:         11 Aug 94 02:18:15 
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General Electric / CFM International

Before the CF6-powered DC-10, the only GE commercial engine that I'm aware of
was the CJ805, a turbojet that powered the Convair 880 and 990.  About 25
years ago, When Airbus was designing its A300 twin, Airbus really wanted an
European engine.  The CF6 got a head start with the Airbus because of GE's
partnership with SNECMA and MTU(?).  By my rough estimate, GE's CF6 and CFM56
power more than 70% of all the Airbus planes in service and on order.
Nonetheless, GE's dominance may be fading.  The A330 is the first Airbus
product that will predominately be powered by non-GE/CFMI engines; GE even fell
behind Rolls-Royce, the "new kid" in town.  (It's ironic that an American
engine with some European participation was considered more "European" than
the Rolls engines, especially when SNECMA/MTU involvement in the CF6 program
was a token one.  It is most amusing that it took almost twenty years to put
a "pure"-European engine on an European Airbus!  On the other hand, British
Airways have never ordered an Airbus plane from Airbus, yet!  And I wonder
whether there will ever be an European airline flying an RR-powered Airbus?)
Other than the DC-10 and the A300, the CF6 also power the B747, B767, A310,
and recently the MD11 as well as the A330.  The CF6 leads the competition in
all applications except the B747-200/-300 and the A330.

Although, SNECMA has a small interest in the CF6 program, the most important
GE/SNECMA partnership is CFM International.  Initially, CFMI did not have
much success in selling the CFM56 for reengineing the B707 and DC-8.
However, the second-generation B737 arguably made the CFM56 one of the most
successful engine programs ever.  The popularity of the CFM56-powered Boeing
737-300/400/500 certainly has propelled GE to displace P&W as the overall
market leader.  IMHO, this is why GE is willing to share the B737-600/700/800
development cost to maintain its monopoly to power the next generation B737.
The CFM56 is also used on the A320/321/319.  In addition, it is currently the
only powerplant for the four-engined A340.

During the last decade, the engine thrust requirement had steadily been
increasing.  With the success of the B767 and A310 over-water extended-range
twin operations (ETOPS), airlines are interested in bigger twins.  As a
result, the A330, and later the even bigger B777, were launched to satisfy
the market needs.  Unfortunately, the CF6 has reached its limits and GE must
design a brand-new engine, the GE90, for the B777.  At the time, GE was
convinced that there would be a strong market for the growth B777 and 600-
to 800-seat NLA-type aircraft(*see below).  As a result, the GE90 was
designed with ample room to grow, and it is significantly larger than the
competitiors' derivative engines.  The GE90 has the largest fan (123"
diameter vs. competitors' 110" and 112", or 20% more in frontal area), it has
the highest bypass ratio (~9-10 vs. ~7-8), and the highest pressure ratio
(~40 vs. ~35).  The high bypass ratio helps to increase the engine propulsive
efficiency, while the high pressure ratio helps to increase the thermal
efficiency.  However, all of the recent proposals for NLA-type aircraft--such
as the B747X and A3XX-- as well as the "long-forgotten" four-engined MD12
require engines in 70K-lb thrust range.  Although GE may offer a derated GE90
with a smaller fan, an improved CF6 derivative may be a more competitive
product.  Then, with only the B777 platform, the future of the GE90 is not
exactly bright.  Nevertheless, the GE90--developed by GE, SNECMA, Fiat, and
IHI of Japan--is supposedly the most (specific-)fuel-efficient and
environmental-friendly engine.

GE's significant customers: American, All Nippon, Air France, Lufthansa,
			    JAL (B747-400s)
CFMI's significant customers: Southwest, Lufthansa, United, Continental,
			      USAir and many other big B737 operators

*NLA  - New Large Airplane, I believe it is a Boeing project name.
 VLCT - Very Large Commercial Transport, I believe this is the term used by
	the joint investigating team of Boeing and partners of Airbus.
 VHCT - Very-High-Capacity Transport is the new Airbus term for the A3XX.
 VLA  - Very Large Aircraft, I can't trace the origin of this name.