CFM’s Leap-1B Turbofan Begins Ground Testing

 - June 18, 2014, 12:44 PM
Ground testing of CFM International's new Leap-1B turbofan began this week at Snecma's Villaroche facility in France. [Photo: CFM International]

CFM International has begun ground testing of the first Leap-1B engine developed to power Boeing’s new 737 Max family of narrowbody airliners. The joint venture between Snecma and GE announced today that ground tests began three days ahead of schedule on June 13 and that the 23,000- to 28,000-pound-thrust turbofan already has achieved full takeoff thrust. The engine is due to complete certification in 2016 as it prepares to enter service on the 737 Max in 2017.

Over the next few weeks, testing at Snecma’s Villaroche facility in France will focus on verifying the Leap-1B’s mechanical operations, operability (stall margin) and start performance. Time will also be taken to validate the advanced technologies incorporated in the engine design, including its woven carbon fiber composite fan, the twin-annular, pre-mixing swirler combuster, ceramic matrix composite shrouds in the high-pressure turbine and titanium aluminum blades in the low-pressure turbine.

“The reason we chose such aggressive maturation and certification schedule is to wring out any issues and solve them long before the engine even enters a customer fleet,” said CFM executive vice president Allen Paxson. “What the plan has also done is validate our philosophy of extensive component and rig tests well in advance of full engine testing. We had thousands of hours under our belt before we ever assembled the first engine. The engine is right where we want it to be.”

CFM also is developing the 24,500- to 32,900-pound-thrust Leap-1A engine to power the rival Airbus A320neo, as well as the 27,900- to 30,000-pound-thrust Leap-1C model for China’s Comac C919 aircraft.