PARIS 2011: CFM reports successful LEAP eCore 2/LPT tests before bumper order week

CFM’s progress on its LEAP engine family has been boosted by the testing of its second development core, eCore 2, and the low-pressure turbine (LPT) plus the anticipation of significant order announcements during the 49th Paris Air Show this week.

The company is planning four order announcements each day from Monday to Thursday, though not all will be for LEAP engines. However, when asked about the lead taken by the competing Pratt & Whitney PW1100G on the A320neo programme, CFM executive vice-president Chaker Chahrour replied, “Ask me that question on Thursday.”

On the technology aspects, Chahrour went on to note that the eCore 2 went to test on 24 May, slightly ahead of schedule. “Unlike eCore 1, this is the full-up LEAP configuration. And we’ve had outstanding results so far,” he declared.

Fellow EVP Olivier Savin added, “Our ultra high-efficiency LPT rig also began testing in May and has also exceeded the design specifications.”

The LEAP engine family, with the LEAP-X1C on the COMAC C919 and the LEAP-X1A for the Airbus A320neo family, is scheduled to enter service in 2016

With much focus currently on the LEAP family, Chahrour reminded his audience that the company is about to put the CFM56-7BE into service in the enhanced Boeing 737NG family. “The engine will provide an extra 1% better fuel burn with Boeing adding 1% via the aeroplane design, so the aircraft family will have 2% better fuel burn overall,” Chahrour explained. “Aircraft certification is imminent and we’re starting to ship the -7BE engines out of the factory now.”

Savin reported that on the A320 family there is a similar story. “We will introduce another Product Improvement Package (PIP) on the CFM56-5B later this year,” he remarked. “The PIP will lower sfc on the -5B by 0.5%. This reduction at a fuel price of $4 per gallon (equivalent to $140 per barrel) will being savings of $50,000 per aircraft per year and reduce maintenance costs by 1%.” The current price is around $3/gallon.

Savin confirmed that the flight testing of the PIP is done and the package will come into service by the end of the third quarter.

Picking up on the two developments, Chahrour added that the -7BE and -5B PIP are interchangeable on their respective aircraft. “You can have, says, on an Airbus, one of each – a -5B and a -5B PIP – on each side of the aircraft.”

Returning to LEAP, Savin said that there are a projected 4,000 aircraft sales for the A320neo programme. “And we expect a lot of good news on the A320neo during the week,” he commented.

The engine for the C919 is in its joint definition phase with design freeze planned for the second quarter of 2012. CFM expects a market size for the C919 of 1,000-1,300 aircraft in the next 20 years. All of the 100 orders announced at the Zhuhai Air Show in 2010 will have the LEAP-X1C. There is the possibility of some LEAP-X1C final assembly in China, which Chahrour stressed would be on a business-driven case only – primarily due to the benefit of proximity between the final assembly line of the engine and that of the aircraft.

According to Savin, all the test results “are great”. The MASCOT endurance engine has met all the targets CFM set and the fan-blade-out test was performed in May “with total success”. This, he noted, was the first such test on a third generation 3D fan blade.

Bernie Baldwin, editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/
Paris, France

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