So what can we take from this? The most important point for me:
CMC turbine blades availability slipped from 2018 to 2020!!! This means:
- That moving the EIS of the chinese C919 forward from 2018 to 2016 was a bad decision for CFM, as CFM was forced to speed up their development plan. But some technologies obviously need and take their time and can't be accelerated too much.
- That the 2016 LEAP-X engine for the C919 and the A320neo needs more turbine cooling than originally was planned with CMC turbine blades. As cooling air for the HPT blades is rather "expensive" (it is taken from one of the rear compressor stages), more cooling air means higher SFC.
- That the LEAP-X is not competitive with the GTF in terms of fuel burn (at least) until 2020.
- That a version of the LEAP-X for a potential B737RE would not yield an improvement good enough to keep pace with a GTF powered A320neo (at least in terms of fuel burn).
- That the LEAP-X with CMC blades would be ready "just in time" for a new Boeing aircraft in 2020. But 9 years ahead, who would count on that today?
If Bernstein Research is right about the CMC turbine blades, CFM has a big problem. To position the engine as the lower risk engine is "BS", as it is a new centerline engine as the GTF is - but the GTF neo-engine will benefit from the engines for the CSeries and the MRJ. LEAP-X is also running considerably hotter and this is always risky. So I do not see airlines will give them credit for lower risk.
As I wrote earlier, the litmus test for CFM will be a potential order for the A320neo from AirFrance-KLM, the decision from Virgin America and the anticipated order from AirAsia.