CFM International last week froze the design of the Leap engine variant destined to power Boeing’s new 737 Max narrowbody. The Snecma-GE joint venture has said it expects to achieve the first full engine test of the Leap-1B in the middle of next year, followed by initial flight-testing in 2015 and powerplant certification in 2016. Boeing expects the 737 Max to enter service in 2017.
Airbus and Boeing each secured major commitments for their respective narrowbodies last week, potentially helping to quiet some of the debate surrounding the extent of their production rate increases.
With deliveries of Boeing’s 787 suspended pending an FAA review prompted by a string of technical problems, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has still not completed certification of the new widebody.
Beyond an admission by China’s Comac that the development timetable for its new C919 narrowbody will be pushed back by a further delay of one or two years in the certification of its ARJ21 regional airliner, precise details on the program is progressing remain hard to pin down.
China’s Spring Airlines has ordered CFM56-5B engines to power a pair of new Airbus A320s that it is due to received in January and July 2014. Engine maker CFM International announced the $40 million deal on November 14 at Airshow China 2012.
Comac has received 50 more commitments for its new C919 narrowbody airliner. Three contracts announced on the first day of Airshow China 2012 in Zhuhai call for 20 each of the twinjet to go to Chinese carriers Joy Air and Hebei Aviation, with 10 more signed for by leasing group Gecas. But the first flight of the C919 now seems likely to be pushed back again due to a new delay with Comac’s ARJ21 regional airliner development.
China’s Comac group has admitted it could take another “one or two years” complete certification of the already-delayed ARJ21 regional airliner.
The ninth edition of the biennial Airshow China opens at Zhuhai Airport in the southern province of Guangdong on November 13, with organizers promising the largest event since its start in 1996. Some 650 exhibitors from 39 countries have flocked to mainland China’s largest airshow, with many of the 80 aircraft present due to take part in the flying display before it closes on November 18.
CFM faces some uncertainties surrounding its Leap-1C turbofans for the Comac C919 narrowbody, although the engine program schedule calls for that variant of the three-member Leap family to go to test first.
CFM, the 50/50 joint venture between GE and Snecma, has embarked on a “major” risk-abatement plan to ensure a smooth production transition from its CFM56 to the new Leap-1A, B and C engines, chosen to power, respectively, the Airbus A320neo, the Boeing 737 Max and the Comac C919 single-aisle airliners. “Transitioning from 1,600 engines per year to the same output of another type in two years, this is something the industry has never done before,” François Harant, Snecma’s supply chain director, told AIN.