Despite Airbus demand, Safran will not increase LEAP output
Safran’s CEO Philippe Petitcolin reasserted that the production objectives for the LEAP engine (co-created with General Electric) would remain the same, despite Airbus asking for an increased output.
The objective of 1,100 LEAP engines delivered in 2018, 1,800 in 2019 and 2,000 in 2020 was reaffirmed by Petitcolin during a meeting with the AJPAE aerospace media association. "I want to be virtually certain about the robustness of the supply chain before committing to higher production," Safran’s CEO said.
On April 10, 2018, La Tribune reported that Airbus sent a letter to its suppliers, confirming its decision to increase the A320neo output from 50 to 63 aircraft produced per month around April 2019, with a final objective of 70 to 75 by 2021. If most of its partners were in capacity to follow that increase, Safran expressed doubt about the feasibility.
Indeed, CFM International (the joint company of Safran and General Electric) already has a high output (12 LEAPs per week for Airbus, 14 for Boeing), way superior to its rival Pratt & Whitney who is also equipping the A320neo with its GTF engine, as Boeing also uses the LEAP engine to power its B737 MAX. If Boeing were to align on Airbus’ increased input, CFM could see the demand exceeding its capacities, especially as its former generation engine, the CFM56, still has pending deliveries until 2020.
During the meeting, Petitcolin also commented on the takeover of Zodiac, a French aerospace group, by Safran in February 2018. Zodiac is specialized in cabin equipments such as seats. The company saw its profit growing since the beginning of the century because of an increased demand in aircraft. It became the leader in passenger seats in 2011, in front of its U.S. rival B/E Aerospace.
However, in 2014, several manufacturers including Airbus and Boeing complained of delays in deliveries and quality defects. The crisis severely harmed the company’s reputation which saw its orders decrease in the following years.
Safran bought out the company in an attempt to repair the damages. But Petitcolin informed the journalists that it might take some time. “There are a lot of improvements to do on a operational and structural level if we want achieve the level expected by our customers, which is an average level regarding the market”, he commented, adding that it could take from 15 to 18 months to catch up with the current backlog.
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