DUBAI 2015: CFM LEAP commitments nearing 10,000

CFM arrived in Dubai with 9,660 LEAP orders and commitments and quickly added a further 150 as Jet Airways was revealed as a previously undisclosed customer for 75 Boeing 737 MAXs.

“I don’t believe any programme has ever achieved commitments like this before entry into service,” remarked Jean-Paul Ebanga, CFM’s president and CEO. The deal also took the OEM’s total orders in 2015 past the 2,000 mark, of which 687 have been for the CFM56 family and 1,375 for the LEAP family.

Production levels of the CFM56 have continued to increase with more than 1,650 deliveries expected this year and approximately 1,700 planned for 2016, which will be the maximum rate for the CFM56 before LEAP engine production begins to fully ramp up.

“We’re very pleased on both the business side and the product side,” Ebanga declared. “We still have a dominant position with 68% of orders on 100+ seat aircraft. Market acceptance of the product has never been better.”

Ebanga highlighted CFM’s “comprehensive” presence in the Middle East and North Africa. “We have roughly 1,000 engines in service in the region, plus 1,000 on order. And both flydubai and Air Arabia have 100% CFM-powered fleets,” he noted.

The Middle East, he added, is one of the most demanding markets operationally. “For example, flydubai can operate around 15 legs per day, so that’s very high utilisation in a very demanding environment with both high temperatures and sand. It’s a good example of the reliability of the CFM56,” Ebanga emphasised.

Discussing the LEAP programme’s development, CFM’s executive vice-president Francois Bastin, reported that everything is on track. “We didn’t get there by luck; it’s all been about the amount of preparation and planning plus a massive resource allocation.”

The latest engine to test, the LEAP-1B for the Boeing 737 MAX family, is “unfolding as well as the -1A and -1C did,” according to Bastin. The whole test programme has now completed 6,400 hours and 13k cycles, including around 700 flight hours over 130 flights in a variety of operating conditions.

CFM has already delivered LEAP-1Bs to Boeing for the first 737 MAX, which is scheduled to be rolled out by year-end, with first fight set to follow in early 2016.

For the LEAP-1A engine, Bastin confirmed that 100% of testing and 100% of the reporting and documentation is “done and delivered, so it’s in the hands of the regulatory authorities”. Certification therefore is imminent.

“It’s no surprise to us that there have been no big surprises from the test programme because of the preparation we did,” he continued. “We’ve basically used the flight test campaign as ‘Airline No 1’, essentially doing airline operations.”

The next challenge, Bastin indicated, is to help around 40 LEAP customers enter service in the next couple of years.

Photo shows CFM president and CEO, Jean-Paul Ebanga sharing a joke with EVP Francois Bastin at the CFM booth at teh Dubai Air Show.

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

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