“This will include a full demonstration of the certification test profile [a year before the actual certification test], plus an engineering test for icing. It is another risk burn-down, and we have taken lessons learned from GEnx icing and then some,” says Richards, referring to the ongoing development work at GE to tackle the core icing issues encountered particularly on the GEnx-2B. The engine will undergo a third and final rebuild in readiness for use in the destructive blade-off test scheduled to take place in Villaroche, near Paris, next September,
The start of engine tests comes as CFM continues to rack-up record orders for the current CFM56-5/7 as well as the Leap models. The GE-Snecma joint venture has taken orders for 2,196 engines this year, outpacing the 1,972 booked over the whole of 2012. The 2013 orderbook is split almost evenly between current and next-generation engines, with booking taken for 1,094 CFM56s and 1,102 Leap units so far.
“The two CFM product lines are doing very well so far,” says CFM president Jean-Paul Ebanga. “At this stage of the Leap program, we have more than 5,000 engines already on order. In terms of backlog, we are in good shape, and on the CFM56, our backlog is also above 5,000.”
The sales success continues to put greater onus on preparations for meeting delivery demands and ensuring a smooth production ramp-up. Cedric Goubet, CFM executive vice president, says the goal is to achieve an accelerated delivery curve that will see Leap production rise from zero to 1,700 engines “within less than three years.” Overall, the plan calls for “1,700 Leaps by the end of 2018 and start of 2019, and maybe going up to 1,800 by the end of the decade,” he says. All these exceed the recently achieved historic maximum annual delivery rate of 1,500 engines for the CFM56.