CFM’s Leap-1A Gains Dual FAA-EASA Approval

 - November 20, 2015, 11:33 AM
The CFM Leap-1A underwent 360 hours of flight testing. (Photo: CFM International)

The CFM Leap-1A turbofan on Friday gained joint certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), clearing the engine to power the Airbus A320neo in revenue service in mid-2016. Airbus expects to gain certification of the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-powered A320neo by the end of this year.

With the Leap-1A’s simultaneous FAA and EASA approval, CFM stands as the only engine manufacturer to gain dual original certification from both agencies, it said. Typically, a lead agency issues type certification and the second agency validates it.   

“It has been an incredible journey for the entire CFM team to get the engine to this point,” said Francois Bastin, executive vice president of CFM International. “It is truly an achievement which involved our engineering, supply chain and test teams, as well as EASA and the FAA. The Leap engine includes many industry first technologies and the agencies have worked with us from the beginning to validate the certification plan for these advancements.”

The Leap-1A flew for the first time on the Airbus A320neo on May 19, 2015. A second aircraft was added to the test program in September and, to date, the two airplanes have logged a combined total of more than 140 flights and 360 hours of flight testing.

“We are very pleased with the way all of the Leap engine models have been performing during the test programs,” said Allen Paxson, executive vice president for CFM. “The Leap-1A is doing extremely well in flight tests on the A320neo; the reliability we designed for this engine is definitely there.”

CFM calls its Leap development and certification effort the most extensive in its history. The company has tested a total of 34 engines, logging more than 6,500 hours and 13,450 cycles. Test highlights include fan blade-out, bird ingestion tests, ice slab ingestion, hail stone and hail storm ingestion, cross wind, icing, acoustics, emissions, triple-redline (maximum fan speed, maximum core speed, and maximum exhaust gas temperature) endurance test and more than 700 hours of flight testing on modified 747 flying testbeds.

Leap-1A features include 3-D woven carbon fiber composite fan blades and fan case;  what CFM characterizes as a unique debris rejection system; so-called fourth-generation three-dimensional aerodynamic designs; the company’s Twin-Annular, Pre-Swirl (TAPS) combustor; ceramics matrix composite shrouds in the high-pressure turbine and titanium aluminide (Ti-Al) blades in the low-pressure turbine.

The Leap engine has experienced the fastest order ramp-up in commercial aviation history, according to CFM, and airlines had chosen the Leap-1A to power 1,327 A320neo narrowbodies through October 2015, or 53 percent of the total number of Neos ordered for which an engine selection has been made. Overall, CFM has received orders for a total of 9,660 Leap engines across all three models, including the Leap-1B for the Boeing 737 Max and the Leap-1C for the Comac C919.