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CFM: No Leap-1A Changes Needed to Power A321XLR

 - November 17, 2019, 1:01 AM

Gaël Méheust, CFM president and CEO, told AIN Airbus has indicated that the existing Leap-1A “exactly meets the requirement of this airplane” and that the Leap-1A “answers perfectly” the thrust, fuel-efficiency and dispatch-reliability requirements for the 101-tonne-mtow A321XLR. “Airbus insisted we do nothing to jeopardize the reliability and performance of this product,” in offering it for the 4,700-nm aircraft, he said.

Airbus’s instruction to CFM means the A321XLR/Leap-1A combination will be “a win for everyone,” said Méheust. Retaining the same Leap-1A spec for the A321XLR as that for the existing A321neo and A321LR means “there will be no changes in the bill of materials” for customers choosing Leap-1As when ordering the longest-range A321 version, he said. “It’s a win for CFM customers, because they have the same bill of materials. It’s a win for investors, because it keeps the residual values of their engines high.” It will also be a win for CFM, because it should be able to sell more engines as a result, according to Méheust.

One factor CFM feels is in the Leap-1A’s favor over the competing PW1100G-JM geared turbofan manufactured by Pratt & Whitney is that “the longer the Leap is in the air, the better its fuel-efficiency is,” said Méheust. CFM’s original fuel-performance target for the Leap-1A was for it to be 15 percent more fuel-efficient than any existing A320-family engine. He said the Leap-1A has achieved that target—which in any case referred to brand-new examples of previous-generation engines. Many Leap-1A operators who also have high-hour A320ceo-family aircraft in their fleets, “are seeing [achieved Leap fuel-efficiencies] upwards of 20 percent better than their existing fleets,” he said.

While many early operators of the A321neo chose the PW1100G-JM, CFM now holds a 60 percent market share for all A321neo orders for which engine selections have been announced, according to Méheust. This figure corresponds closely to the 61 percent market share that CFM today says the Leap-1A holds for announced engine selections for the A320neo family as a whole. “This is a share we’ve probably never even had in our history” on the A320 family overall, he said. “The situation on the A320 family has never been so favorable to CFM.”

The Leap-1A is doing so well because it is meeting and even exceeding all of its performance and reliability targets, according to Méheust. “Performance is on point” in terms of fuel-burn, emissions, in-service reliability, and in the overall Leap production program ramp-up and on-time deliveries of engines to the aircraft manufacturers.

Three years after entering service in August 2016, the Leap-1A is displaying “remarkable reliability,” said Méheust. Average dispatch reliability is 99.99 percent, “two to three percent better than the CFM56 [-powered] airplane. The design is stable. It’s too early to say it’s mature, but after 6 million [flight] hours, you know what kind of baby was born.”