CFM International predicts a huge demand over the next 20 years for up to 30,000 engines to power single-aisle aircraft as China, India, Latin America and Russia increase their fleet densities to the levels of western countries.
As it gears up for the growth, the General Electric/Snecma partnership is heading for its highest ever production rate in 2007 and 2008. “We’ll build around 1,050 engines in 2006 and that will increase to at least 1,200 in 2007 and even more the year after,” said CFM president Eric Bachelet.
The fastest growth area seen by the manufacturer is China, where there are just 950 aircraft in service for a population of 1.3 billion, compared to 6,500 aircraft in the U.S., with 300 million. India has a 1.1 billion population with only 225 aircraft in service, while Brazil, with 200 million people, has just 200 aircraft.
“We see probable growth of 16 percent a year for China and 20 percent for India,” said Bachelet, who claims that CFMI won 55 percent of the market for single-aisle engines in the 10 years since 1996. Orders this year stand at 1,270 engines, and are likely to reach “at least” another 230 before year-end, he added.
CFMI executive vice president Bill Clapper said work on the engine for the next generation of single-aisle aircraft would have to provide a “game changing” powerplant to satisfy airline demands for a super-reliable, fuel-efficient, low maintenance cost engine.
Its LEAP 56 program is the platform for the work and has the goal of reducing fuel burn by at least 15 percent compared to today’s most efficient engine, the CFM56-5B and -7B series powering the latest Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s. Maintenance cost will be cut by up to 25 percent and initial on-wing life increased by the same amount, while emissions will be 50 percent lower.
Validation testing of an all-composite fan system that will weigh 400 pounds less than its metal counterpart has been completed, said Clapper, with further endurance testing planned for next year.
An ultra-highly loaded high-pressure compressor with forward-swept rotors and fewer stages has completed rig testing with “very good results,” and a Phase 2 twin-annular, pre-swirl combustor has been developed from the Phase 1 combustor used in the new GEnx engine powering the Boeing 787, demonstrating oxides of nitrogen levels 50 percent below the most recent CAEP 6 emissions requirements.
“We think we’re in the right range as far as technology is required,” said Clapper, “but that doesn’t mean we’re not looking at even more aggressive targets.” He declined to reveal the likely bypass ratio of the future engine, which will compete with the geared turbofan (GTF) under development by Pratt & Whitney, a route dismissed out of hand by Clapper. “We don’t think the GTF provides any benefit in this market at the size proposed,” he said.