Most analyses of the CFM56 line focus on the -7, and rightly so; as sole powerplant for the Boeing 737NG it is the most widely used engine in history.
Nevertheless, the Airbus A320 family’s CFM56-5B deserves attention too. With 7,600 in service its fleet may be just over half that of the -7, but it is still the second most popular engine in service, one ahead of the V2500, the competing product on the A320.
Delta Air Lines has just bolstered that position with an order for at least 60 CFM56-5Bs to power 30 additional A321ceo aircraft.
The US major is famous for its use of current-generation and mature equipment, and has one of the oldest fleets of any big airline. So, while rival carriers book out A320neo and 737MAX slots, Delta refreshes its fleet with an aircraft-engine combination in service since 1994.
CFM planners must now decide whether other airlines will follow suit, and adjust their production ratios accordingly.
Last year was supposed to represent peak CFM56 production, with numbers forecast to drop from 1,665 to 1,400 in 2017. Next year factories should roll out almost equal numbers of CFM56 and LEAP engines, although the manufacturer cautions that nothing is set in stone.
“Keep in mind that 2017 to 2020 are projections only; the CFM56 product line is still selling,” says Jamie Jewell, CFM’s director of strategic communications.
Prior to the recent CFM56-5B commitment Aviation Week’s 2017 Commercial Aviation Fleet & MRO Forecast predicted that the in-service -5B fleet would peak in 2019 at 8,076, but more orders like Delta’s could extend the engine’s ascent.
Maintenance providers, however, should be reasonably confident that CFM56-5B overhaul demand will top out in 2024 – as previously predicted – when about $4bn of work will be required.