Well the question is fairly simple and… complicated as it has many layers on which we could discuss this issue.
First of all they are complicated, packed with high-tech electronics and solutions, some parts are tippled just to stay on the safe side and all that has to be developed and tested. That costs millions of dollars. But today I would like to highlight just one of the costs aspect – reliability.
Lufthansa published a post about 100.000 flight hours of its CFM56-5C. What does that number tell you? For me it is hard to imagine and put it into perspective so lets help ourselves with an other number. It started to fly in 1993. What did you do in 1993? I can’t even remember. I was probably playing football and constructing wooden guns, reading books etc. Normal things that kids do. And here we are today, me writing this post, and the engine is still “at work”. Let’s be clear – this case is the same for Boeing, Bombardier, Rolls-Royce, GE etc. Lufthansa Airbus with its CFM56-5C is just an inspiration for this text.
Reliability is the holy grail in the aviation industry. Because each element costs huge amount of money the customer wants it to work flawlessly. Of course the engine through many years of service gets overhauled, checked, dissembled, assemble, upgraded, the software is adjusted and so on.
Thanks to a very complicated multi level cooperation it is possible to use aircraft for decades. Just imagine a car driving for two decades. Will it be as reliable as in the first year? Will it give you the same safety level? Maybe yes and maybe no. With aircraft the situation looks different. There is no place for maybe! Either it is safe and it flies or it is not safe and it is grounded. End of discussion. It doesn’t matter if an engine is 1,2 4 or 20 years old – it has to be reliable like it was when it rolled out from the factory.
And there you go. Here is the huge cost. Keeping up a standard for decades must cost and it costs. So next time while sitting comfortably in your seat think that next to you, on a wing, sits a 10 maybe 20 year old engine which is as good as new 😉
Photo: Wikimedia Commons