engine manufacturers back to their CAD station draw- ing screens to develop new innovative and efficient engine designs featuring heat-resistant materials that can operate at higher temperatures. Engine programs like the CFM LEAP engine and Pratt & Whitney Pure Power Geared Turbo Fan engine are being developed for retrofitting on Boeing 737 and Airbus A 320 airliners, as well as being installed on the new Airbus A 320neo and the Boeing 737 MAX airliners. “These new programs involve all-new components, new designs and new strategies for fuel efficiencies in operation,” said Scott Walker, president, Mitsui Seiki (USA) Inc. (Franklin Lakes, NJ). “The Pratt & Whitney gear fan strategy is designed to use high-nickel base alloys for hot stage components and make the engine diameter smaller, make it burn hotter, and drive the fan with a planetary gear system that’s more efficient at slower speeds. The LEAP strategy is to make the hot and cold stage components smaller in diameter and run them hot- ter and faster, using a totally new proprietary blade design.
How Much Machining Capacity Will Be Needed? A good question might be how many spindles are going to be required and purchased for machining integrally bladed rotors (IBR) and blisks (bladed disk) and related components required for the engine programs. The answer is a substan- tial number with capital investment outlay for high-precision five-axis machining centers topping an estimated $100 million for these engine programs alone. That doesn’t even take into account the impact of the Boeing 787 and Airbus A380 and A350 programs that are already well underway. As much as 40% of the engine machining is going to be outsourced to a supply chain that is quietly consolidating. “What I see happening is that the large Tier 1 public com- panies have been on a buying spree, acquiring second-tier shops, putting them in the position to go to an OEM and say they can do it all, supply the castings, materials, do the machining, and ship assemblies with all the tools needed to complete the job in assembly,” said Walker. “It’s JIT, almost