The entry into service of latest, next generation, high bypass ratio turbofan engines on commercial aircrafts has played a significant role in the dawn of the second golden age for commercial aviation being witnessed by the industry currently. The entry into service of these next generation engines has led to culmination of decades of research on material sciences innovations, propulsion technologies and concepts by the industry into in-service engines promising optimized operating economics, enhanced performance and reduced noise & emission levels. The narrow body aircraft segment in 2016 witnessed the entry into service of two all-new engines for the first time in almost 30 years with commercial aviation in the middle of its second golden era marked by record & burgeoning order backlogs for new aircraft programs across most industry OEMs, rapid growth in passenger traffic and growing airlines profitability aided by a favorable oil price environment.
The battle for supremacy amongst Pratt & Whitney’s GTF and CFM’s LEAP in the narrow body aircraft segment; which accounts for over half of total global turbofan engine deliveries in unit terms; is likely to be fought fiercely and will be the key to shaping emerging market dynamics over medium term with both competing engine families having successfully entered service in 2016. The wide body aircraft market, too, is poised for disruption over medium term with Boeing actively planning & exploring the market for the introduction of a new middle of the market aircraft (NMA) program, Rolls Royce developing its next generation of wide body aircraft engines based on geared turbofan engine technology and Pratt & Whitney planning a foray into the wide body aircraft segment over medium term with a bigger GTF engine core.
The long term view of the market remains highly optimistic with demand projections indicating towards robust demand growth for new commercial aircrafts through the mid-2030s though some pressures on order intake over near term might appear for the OEMs in 2017 as the industry focuses on delivering on the burgeoning backlog. The near to medium term outlook for engine manufacturers, however, is bright & shiny, spearheaded by the commercial aviation sector, which is poised for steady growth through the mid-2030s with demand growth projections indicating towards robust demand growth for new commercial aircrafts through 2035 led by the Asia-Pacific region.
All leading Engine Manufacturers are clearly focusing on streamlining & preparing their industrial base for the rapid production ramp up required for meeting tight delivery schedules with significant capital expenditure underway towards infrastructure & facilities. Additionally, the industry players have also been focusing on expanding their existing engine portfolio with the introduction of new engine variants for specific segments & applications. R&D activity, too, continues unabated across players for further optimization, refinement & fine-tuning of their existing engine programs & propulsion technologies as they vie for a larger market share by strengthening presence across specific market segments with portfolio expansion & updates or by making a foray into entirely new, untapped market segments with Boeing’s NMA being one of the most prominent target on the radar of engine manufacturers over medium term.