The demand of CFM56 overhaul in post-pandemic industry

As the global pandemic situation is shifting with the world returning to certain normality, so does the aviation industry – and with it, the more specific segments, such as engine repairs and overhauls. Alexey Ivanov, Sales Director at Magnetic Engines, overviews the status of recovery of CFM56 engine overhauls and market challenges.

According to Alexey, we see that the market is slowly recovering on CFM56-7B and -5B engines. -7B is recovering faster due to higher utilization on 737NG family, however -5B engine on A320 family is still quite depressed. 

“Although the number of flights is increasing, the number of overhauls and heavy repairs is less than before the pandemic as the number of airlines and asset owners are still choosing the option of using green time engines or partial hospital repairs and modules change instead of overhauls. Lots of engines are going to disassembly and it feeds the stock of spare serviceable modules which supports the concept of modular changes instead of original engines repair. For example, there is absolutely no sense to perform the repair of fan module or LPT module on the engine unless the defect is minor there. If the defect is major or LLPs require replacement it is cheaper and way faster to install spare serviceable module instead of overhauling original modules,” shares Mr Ivanov.

Before the pandemic, most of those engines were repaired when LLPs replacement was needed or when full OH was needed; aviation professionals were mostly neglecting hospital repairs or modular changes thinking that in the long run, such exercise is less efficient, some people had doubts on the installation of serviceable modules thinking they are less reliable. Engines were usually built for some 8-10k cycles. Now the planning horizon became shorter – airlines and engine owners are more often considering hospital repairs to return the engine to service for another year or two or replace affected module or module with expired LLPs with the module coming from the donor engine or from tear down. It allows to return the engine to service much quicker and with much lower cost

Mr Ivanov notes: “We see even the OEM is following the market to support hospital repairs. CFMI has recently introduced Special procedure 20 in addition to Special procedure 10 which makes certain hospital repairs even easier as it’s possible to apply AMM limits instead of EMM limits more often for hospital repairs.

As the main focus of Magnetic Engines is mostly hospital repairs and modular changes, we welcome such changes. We are a small engine shop, we do not perform full repairs and overhauls.”

But as it’s still expected that the market will fully recover from the crisis by 2024 or so and the wave of engines will return back to the shops thus overhauls of -5B and -7B will return. There can even be expectations for some bottlenecks and shortage of slots as during 2020-21 certain shops reduced capacities, laid off people and not all of them resumed it back – and when the time comes it might be not possible for the shops to recover the capacity in full promptly.

“Nevertheless, we think that for mature engines which we are dealing with (like CFM56) repair paradigm is shifting now. Even when overhauls return people will be reducing build standards on 7B / 5B engines from 8-10k cycles to 5-7k cycles. Exactly the same has happened with CFM56-3 engines 10 years ago.

Surprisingly CFM56-3 continues to be active but mostly on hospital repairs. Only limited number of customers who plans to continue the operation of 737CL cargo planes for the next 5+ years, mostly well established cargo airlines, are going to perform an overhaul of -3 engines. It’s already very much a niche market but as we have demanded we still work with this engine type as well,” shared Alexey Ivanov.

You enjoyed this article?