A credit crisis and the resulting slowdown in the world economy has exacerbated the turbine engine industry’s normal downcycle, says research house Forecast International.
The exuberance of the three-year period prior to the fourth quarter of 2008 saw annual aircraft sales growing at an unsustainable pace, eclipsing that of the previous year, three years running.
With signs of economic recovery only recently on the horizon, Forecast International says it expects the turbine engine market to remain essentially stagnant through 2012, and then rebound in 2013.
In total, the world turbofan engine market is projected to generate $292 billion in revenue during the 2009-2018 period through the production of 66 273 engines.
The good news for large engine manufacturers is that even with deferrals and cancellations, Airbus and Boeing each have an order backlog of several thousand aircraft, which translates into years of engine production for all of the big turbofan builders.
Pratt & Whitney and CFM International are working on new engine designs for the next generation of narrowbody aircraft, and will have their new technology ready when the airframers begin work on the new jets.
General Electric and Rolls-Royce are equally busy with the GEnx and Trent product lines for new and future applications.
The business aircraft segment has been hit with a double whammy between the credit freeze and the negative publicity of executive use of company business jets.
The credit issue will work itself out over time, but the public’s negative perception of private jets has caused many orders to be deferred or canceled outright.
Several business aircraft programs, both in-production and developmental, have fallen victim to the tough economic climate.
In spite of this, the industry is developing new aircraft designs in anticipation of the market’s reversal. Pratt & Whitney Canada, Rolls-Royce, Honeywell and Williams are all involved in engine development programs to power these new jets.
Military engine production has historically been less vulnerable to swings in the economy, but the Obama administration has indicated it that it will not have the “business as usual” approach of the previous administration.
The controversial alternate engine program for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter could be the first casualty of the new administration’s resolve to overhaul spending on military procurement programs.
The U.S. military is transitioning from its fourth-generation fighter aircraft to new, stealthy fifth-generation jets, and these are flying with powerful new engines with the latest technology.
Pic: A BAE Systems BAe146 regional transport