The Comac C919 narrowbody moved another step closer to first flight Wednesday as its CFM Leap-1C engine gained type certificates from both the European Aviation Safety Agency and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. Due to its 50-50 partnership structure between GE and Safran of France, CFM lays claim as the only engine company to gain simultaneous certification from both agencies, as opposed to the traditional process under which one lead agency issues a type certification and the second agency validates that certification.
The first Leap-1C engine successfully completed a flight-test program in late 2014 on a modified Boeing 747 flying testbed at GE facilities in Victorville, California. In November 2015, the first C919 rolled out at Comac facilities in Shanghai. Last month Comac started the engines for the first time, running them for 10 minutes at ground idle power at the company’s Shanghai Pudong International Airport facility. Comac expects to fly the C919 for the first time next year.
Officially launched in December 2009, when Comac chose the Leap-1C as the sole Western powerplant for its 150-passenger C919, the engine incorporates what CFM calls a unique fully integrated propulsion system (IPS).
Nexcelle, a joint venture between Safran Nacelles and GE Aviation’s Middle River Aircraft Systems (MRAS), developed the Leap-1C’s thrust reverser.
“It has been a real pleasure working in close coordination with Comac on this program,” said CFM executive vice president François Bastin, executive vice president for CFM. “The Leap-1C is the only model for which CFM provides a totally integrated propulsion system that includes the engine, nacelle and thrust reverser. The IPS, along with the pylon developed by Comac, were all designed in conjunction with each other. As a result, the Leap-1C features improved aerodynamics, lower weight, and easier maintenance.”