MRO Americas

Leap-1B Eyes Catch Up as 737 Production Slows

Speaking on the sidelines of MRO Americas, the engine maker's program director said the 1B remained about two weeks behind schedule in general.

ATLANTA and PARIS – The LEAP-1B engine program should catch up on deliveries to Boeing in 3-4 weeks, the CFM International program director told Aviation Week on April 10, and will not change plans even though Boeing is slowing the 737 production rate to 42 aircraft a month.

Speaking on the sidelines of MRO Americas, Kris Shepherd said the 1B remained about two weeks behind schedule in general. He added that there were no plans to slow down engine production despite Boeing’s slowdown.

“I really want to get caught up!” Shepherd said.

Boeing on April 5 announced it will slow the 737 production rate from the current 52 aircraft a month – almost 90% of which are MAXs fingered in recent fatal crashes – to 42 starting in mid-April. Immediately afterward, CFM said it was in “close coordination” with Boeing but there were “no plans to decrease the production rate for the LEAP-1B engine that powers these airplanes.”

The decision to maintain the current LEAP production rate was made to help CFM, a joint venture of GE Aviation and Safran, to get back on schedule and prepare for further 737 rate increases, CFM said.

Nevertheless, Safran acknowledged to Aviation Week on April 9 that there still was uncertainty stemming from the Boeing slowdown. “The answer is not as clear and straightforward as for the engines, where we are in a sole supplier position,” said a Safran spokesperson.

For other pieces of equipment – wheels and carbon brakes, wiring, life vests, life rafts and seats – the consequences depend on what is in the production pipeline for carriers, the spokeswoman explained. “It is a bit too early to analyze the impact and it will be minor,” she said.

The Safran spokeswoman did not give the value of a Safran shipset on a 737 MAX but she emphasized the engine accounts for most of it.

Sanford C. Bernstein analysts have noted that Boeing’s slowdown is not all bad news. “While Safran will see lower LEAP delivery rates, it may also see aftermarket benefits from further 737NG life extensions,” they said April 8.

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