PARIS, July 30 (Reuters) - French aero engine maker Safran remains unwilling to commit to further increases in production of its LEAP engine as it embarks on steep increases in output for a record number of engines already sold, its chief executive said on Thursday.
Airbus and Boeing are considering further production increases in narrowbody jets for which the LEAP engine, co-produced by Safran and General Electric, is designed.
But the plane manufacturers have been urged by both engine makers to tread cautiously amid concerns about the fully stretched aerospace supply chain.
“We think that today the production plan and the ramp-up for the three versions of LEAP engine is a real challenge and we are doing all we can internally to secure the industrialisation and start of production in line with our commitment to clients,” Safran Chief Executive Philippe Petitcolin told reporters.
“There are discussions, but at this stage we maintain our commitment and do not wish, for now in any case, to go beyond this,” he said in a conference call on the group’s first-half results.
The engine’s development is “completely on schedule,” he said.
He predicted that a solid trend in civil aftermarket activity seen in the first half would continue in the second half, but the rate of year-on-year growth would ease in the second half because the first half of 2014 had been a weaker basis for comparison.
Safran has revised up its 2015 aftermarket growth target to a high-teens percentage from around 10 percent.
“The trend we have seen since the beginning of the year should be maintained throughout 2015,” Petitcolin said.
Asked about possible areas for acquisitions, Petitcolin said the group’s main focus was meeting its operational commitments.
“We are not looking all-out for acquisitions. Of course, if opportunities arise we will look at them with interest, especially as our balance sheet allows us to do some interesting things,....but it is not our priority today,” he said. (Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Andrew Callus)