February 27, 2018 / 7:29 AM / 7 months ago

Safran CEO defers decision on higher jet engine output to 2019

PARIS (Reuters) - The head of French aero engine maker Safran (SAF.PA) said on Tuesday he preferred to wait until the beginning of 2019 before committing to further increases in engine production to support possible jetliner output of 70 a month.

Safran Chief Executive Philippe Petitcolin adjusts his handset during the inauguration of the Safran Aircraft Engines plant in Queretaro, Mexico, February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Industry officials say Airbus (AIR.PA) and Boeing (BA.N) are quizzing suppliers about their capacity to support production of as many as 70 medium-haul jets a month each, compared with targets of 57-60 a month set by each planemaker from 2019.

Safran CEO Philippe Petitcolin said deferring a decision to the beginning of next year would allow the company’s CFM engine joint venture with General Electric (GE.N) to assess the status of a sharp ramp-up in LEAP engine production at the end of 2018.

It would also need to understand how long such high levels of jet production would be sustainable as it ponders the investments needed to expand production further, he added.

CFM is experiencing delays of several weeks in LEAP production but aims to catch up within “a few months” as it targets 1,100 deliveries of the new engine this year, up from 459 in 2017, Petitcolin said.

There is no single “black spot” currently hampering deliveries but Safran is closely monitoring its supply chain, he told reporters after unveiling 2017 results.

Petitcolin said Safran would continue to develop the Silvercrest business jet engine after Dassault (AVMD.PA) canceled its Falcon 5X over engine delays, adding the engine could be optimized to suit the sole remaining buyer Cessna.

He declined to comment on any penalties paid to Dassault, which is due to announce a new jet program on Wednesday.

Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta

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