The General Electric CF6-80 engine was introduced in 1982 as a 52,500 – 63,500 lb. thrust engine meant to power mid and large size aircraft like the Boeing 767 and Airbus A330. The engine has aged well despite newer and more fuel-efficient models because of cheap fuel costs and passenger demand for long distance high capacity flights. Ultimately the engines will be phased out, but units are not uncommonly going through their second overhaul at MRO’s for GE CF6-70 engines. That’s an estimated 80,000 hours in flight or 9 years. Globally, the market for GE CF6-80 engines is only expected to shrink by 8% in 2021, meaning MRO shops will be busy for years to come.
According to Aviation Week, the CF6-80 maintenance market will be worth $1.5 billion in 2017. That will be followed by a sharp decline to $1.1 billion in 2018, and then a steady rise as service prices increase for aging engines and replacement parts become increasingly rare. Even now high-pressure turbine blade replacements are highly in demand for CF6-80 maintenance. There are currently about 2400 of these GE engines in service powering widebody airplanes. Their reliability and better lease rates keep the CF6-80 engine as a leader over comparable units such as the Pratt and Whitney PW4000-94.
A growing trend with used aircraft engines such as the CF6-80 is leasing units out that still have run time. Sometimes a passenger engine that is soon due for an overhaul can be moved to a freight aircraft and flown additional cycles to maximize its lifespan. This technique is called green-time leasing and is incredibly popular with the CF6-80 engine. Once the lease is up, the unit can be overhauled and put back on a passenger plane. Time is the true testament to this engines’ success and GE is has been well recognized for such a well-crafted engine.
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