Re: GE90 troubles make page 1 of the Wall St. Journal

From:         Michael Jennings <>
Organization: University of Cambridge DAMTP
Date:         24 Jul 95 03:05:09 
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In article <airliners.1995.1089@ohare.Chicago.COM> you write:
>In article <>,
>Karl Swartz <kls@ohare.Chicago.COM> wrote:
>>Wednesday's Wall St. Journal has a long article on page 1, column 1,
>>on the GE90's problems.  It notes that the GE90-powered 777 test fleet
>>has now been grounded for over two months.  It also says that the FAA
>>issued a "leter of discontinuance" on June 26, formally halting tests
>>of the 777/GE90 combination.
>>The article highlights doubts about GE's ability to meet the Sept. 28
>>deadline to deliver British Airways' first two GE90-powered 777s,
>I read an article from the newswire that GE has passed the bird-ingestion
>retest with the new platform fix last week.  GE is now retrofitting the
>flight-test engines and expected to resume the flight test soon.  I also
>read a report in Flight International saying that as long as they can
>resume the flight test before mid-July, Boeing and GE will be able to meet
>September deadline.
	Have you any idea how large the penalties that GE is going to
have to pay BA are going to be if they don't deliver on time? Given
that BA is paying an absurdly low price for the engines anyway, it
seems that getting BA as the launch customer could be a very expensive
exercise for GE.
>There are always exceptions, aren't there?  JAL switched from P&W to GE
>when they ordered the B747-400, but went back to P&W for the B777.
>Lufthansa ordered the V2500 for the A320 but switched to the CFM56 before
>the planes were delivered.  Later, they ordered the V2500-powered A321,
>but switched back to the CFM56 again with their recently-ordered A319s.

	And of course Qantas have done this twice, for some inexplicable
reason. Their first Boeing 747s had JT9D engines, and they later changed
to RB211s (although the Pratt powered aircraft are now largely gone
from the fleet). Their first 767s (purchased well after they had
switched to R-R for the 747s) had PW4000s, but later ones had CF6s.
(Both types are still well represented in the fleet).  They also have
CF6 (I think) powered A300s that they inherited from Australian airlines.
It is quite a consistent fleet from the point of view of aircraft
(discounting their four A300s which I think they would like to get rid
of they only fly three types - 737s, 747s and 767s) but from the
point of view of engines it's an awful mess. Possibly they will
order GE90 powered 777s so that they can have a fleet containing
every large turbofan engine in existence :-)

>>From what I have heard, even long before the failed bird-strike test in May,
>GE didn't have much chance with Korean's order.  P&W and R-R were all along
>the front-runners in the Korean competition.  R-R was rumored to basically
>give the engines free to KAL.  I think one reason why P&W got the order
>is because P&W is the only engine company made a firm commitment to the
>98,000 lb thrust engine which will power the B777-300.
	This doesn't strike me as a huge issue.  Rolls don't seem to be
having any trouble getting the Trent to operate with those sort of thrusts,
and the thought of their not producing a suitable engine strikes
me as almost inconceivable.

>>GE says
>>that the problems are to be expected with a brand new engine, and
>>points out that P&W-powered 767s have over seven times the in-flight
>>shutdown rate of GE versions, but that's small solace if early bugs
>>drive customers away from the GE90.
>Even with its initial problem in the early 80s, the PW4000 is doing quite
>well now.  Similarly, IAE had many many problems initially.  Now the V2500
>has more than 30% of the market that it competes in.  So, I think it's too
>early to call.
>BTW, I think "GE90" and "JT9D" kinda rhyme with each other.  The JT9D is
>the most short-lived commercial turbofan engine, I wonder if ... ;-)
	GE will get the bugs out eventually. The GE90 is such a big
investment that they will commit the resources to get it right. The
possible loss of corporate prestige if they don't means that they have
to, and they have the resources to do so. As you say though, they
might have lost a lot of the market by then.
	As much as anything I think GE's problem is that they have
built too large an engine for the market. If the manufacturers
were building lots of new large aircraft, having an engine that
was designed for higher thrust from the ground up and which had
more growth potential would be an advantage. As things are, the
777 appears to be its only market, and the other manufacturers
can compete in this one.

	BTW, have you any idea how big the engines are likely
to be for the rumoured 747 stretches? Are GE90 like engines
going to be necessary? Four of those firing at once is likely
to be an awe inspiring amount of thrust.

Michael Jennings
Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics
The University of Cambridge.

"Forrest Gump!! Man, I violently *hated* that reactionary piece of subtle
pseudohip drivel... Then again, I don't even like movies. But Jesus -- a
movie that really makes the audience wish they were obedient and stupid??
What gives?? It's like something out of the depths of a Stalinist purge."
			- Bruce Sterling