DUBAI 2013: First LEAP test results delight CFM as CFM56 hits more milestones

CFM has completed initial testing of the first full LEAP engine (FETT) – a LEAP-1A engine – and according to the company’s EVP, Chaker Chahrour, is “thrilled with results from all points, including the mechanical integrity of the new technology that we’ve put onto the engine”.

The engine, which was operating smoothly at full take-off thrust in a matter of hours, logged a total of 310 hours and more than 400 cycles during approximately five weeks of testing.

The company was even able to use the contingency time it had built into the programme. “After completing all the necessary FETT tests, we had about two weeks available so we decided to take about 10 days and find out more about the engine by continuing to run it,” Chahrour reported. “I’ve worked on the CF6, GE90 (including the -115B) and others and feel more comfortable than I have ever done. We’re miles ahead in being ready compared with those other programmes.”

CFM president and CEO, Jean-Paul Ebanga, added that the engine “ran so well that within a couple of weeks of start, we were running it about 20 hours a day”.

The LEAP programme will have 28 development engines plus compliance engines (flight test engines) which will go onto the three aircraft platforms. “Overall, these will do the equivalent of 42,000 cycles, which is about 17 years of operations, though obviously not on a single engine,” Chahrour confirmed. “Between now and June 2014, we will bring another five engines to test plus a further 15 by the end of next year. Those include the first -1B, which goes to test in June and is already being built along with its instrumentation.”

The programme was boosted on the first day of the show by announcements from flydubai for 100 Boeing 737 MAXs and 11 737-800s and from Etihad Airways for 10 A320neo and 26 A321neo aircraft. Each airline has signed a long-term service agreement for its engines.

“The LEAP market – when you add all Airbus plus Boeing plus COMAC types – takes up 90% of the narrowbody market,” remarked Ebanga. Emphasising what that adds up to, he noted that in 2012, the company delivered 1,423 engines, expects to surpass 1,500 this year and by 2019 will be delivering 1,900 engines in a year, based on the current planned production levels of the OEMs.

In addition to going past the 1,500 production mark this year, CFM has achieved two milestones – delivering its 25,000th engine overall as well as passing the 10,000 delivery mark to Boeing – and will add another when it delivers the 8,500th engine for Airbus In December.

“As of today, we’ve already exceeded the number of orders we got in 2012 by about 21%,” Ebanga continued. “For the CFM56, we’ve sold more than last year. So even though much of the news is about LEAP, the market is still buying the CFM56 ‘big time’, including almost 80% of Airbus A320ceo orders in 2013.”

Chahrour wound up his comments about the LEAP programme by restating his belief that the -1A engine in particular will be 1% better in fuel burn at EIS than its competitor, the PW1400G-JM. “Once all the powerpoints are done with and you go fly these engines, we’ll know the truth. But I don’t want our confidence to be seen as this being easy. What we are doing is tremendously difficult,” he declared.

Bernie Baldwin, editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/LARAnews.net
Dubai, UAE

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