In the heated sales battle between Boeing’s 737 MAX and Airbus’ A320 neo, one neutral arbiter can blow some cool air on the claims of superior performance by both sides.
For this next generation of narrowbody airplanes, it’s all about the engines.
CFM International, a joint venture between GE and Snecma of France, makes an engine that powers today’s 737s and A320s. It also is developing a new, super-efficient engine — called the LEAP — for both the MAX and the neo.
In a briefing in Seattle this week, LEAP program managers Gareth Richards and Francois Bastin outlined their technology.
They also offered a calmer take on how the two airplanes may stack up than Airbus did in recent trade- press ads showing the 737 MAX with a Pinocchio nose.
The engine-makers’ assessment? “The relative improvement over today’s product is the same in both cases,” Richards said.
With the Boeing plane lighter than the Airbus, the MAX version of the LEAP is much smaller than the neo version — 69 inches vs. 78 inches in diameter.
Yet, CFM is contractually guaranteeing that the MAX and the neo engines will each be 15 percent more fuel-efficient than current models.
That sounds like a recipe for maintaining today’s status quo, in which Airbus and Boeing split the narrowbody market roughly evenly. (end of excerpt)
(EDITOR’S NOTE: In reality, the smaller diameter of the 737 MAX’s engine is due to the fact that, as the aircraft sits low on the ground, there’s not enough clearance to fit the larger engine. And it will be interesting to see whether a smaller-diameter engine will in fact prove as fuel-efficient as a larger-diameter one, thereby defying several laws of physics.)
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