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According to Wikipedia, the CFM56 could support several reverse thrust options, and it appears that it has actually been built with 2:

  • Boeing seems to prefer the cascade type
  • Airbus seems to prefer the pivoting door type

Is this a simple case of catering to customer preferences, or is there a more in-depth reason for having multiple reverse thrust options?

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    $\begingroup$ On a turbofan the reverser is usually part of the nacelle, not of the engine. $\endgroup$ – mins Dec 15 '16 at 22:30
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    $\begingroup$ … and the nacelle has to be designed for every aircraft+engine combination anyway, so choosing different reversers in different cases does not really add much extra work. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Dec 20 '16 at 21:01
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enter image description here

Hispano-Suiza has delivered the world's first target-door reverser for a big turbofan, the A320's CFM56

The extending petal-shaped doors type is a Hispano-Suiza specialty. It's a French company and one of the three major suppliers of reverse systems.

In the 80's Hispano-Suiza had to be innovative to capture a bigger market share. Their door type was the first ever on a high bypass engine. They believed investing in R&D will help increase their sales (it did). The petal reversers also double as airbrakes.

enter image description here

Why not on the Boeing 737?

Since the CFM56 on the 737 is close to the ground, the doors would scrape the pavement. And—more importantly for other aircraft types—Hispano-Suiza's competitors are Rohr and Boeing. Boeing definitely would like to keep things in-house with their translating/cascading reversers.

Nowadays with the jet engines of the smallest regional jets to the wide-bodies being as wide as the fuselages, the cascading type is the better choice.


Sources:

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Most likely to allow for increase installation flexibility depending on the choice of engine cowlings to be used on a given aircraft design.

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