July 08, 2012
CFM is ratcheting up the war of words in the intensifying battle with Pratt & Whitney over the Airbus A320NEO.
CFM says its Leap-1A on the A320NEO will require 40 less fuel tank refills per year than the PW1100G geared turbofan. Together with predicted savings from fewer maintenance visits, CFM says the Leap could be $3 million to $4 million cheaper per aircraft over 15 years based on net present value.
CFM56 general manager Chaker Chahrour acknowledges material such as ceramic matrix composites (CMC) will make the Leap more expensive to buy, but says this will be more than offset by the engine’s estimated 2% to 2.5% fuel burn advantage that CFM claims over the Pratt engine. Chahrour also applies the same argument to the higher maintenance costs associated with the additional turbine stages in the Leap.
The two engine makers go head-to-head over the A320NEO, with the Pratt engine due to enter service in 2015 and the Leap in 2016. CFM claims just over half of the current declared market, though this could change soon with several A320NEO engine selections expected to be announced over the coming few days.
According to published figures, CFM claims 62% of firm orders for 100 seater plus aircraft placed to-date during 2012. In numbers this means that 480 out of the 772 aircraft ordered so far this year will be CFM56-powered.
According to CFM, the Leap-1A will require two less shop visits over its life cycle compared to the PW1100G. “That’s two out of five or six, so that’s a big percentage which is huge,” says Chahrour. CFM also estimates the reliability of the Leap will be better with a forecast of 10 fewer engine-related delays per engine per year.
Development of the -1A engine remains on track for the start of the first full engine test in the third quarter of 2013, and first flight on GE’s 747 flying testbed in mid-2014. Ostensibly this will be led by the practically identical -1C variant for the Comac C919. However, Chahrour says the Airbus and Comac schedules are currently “on top of each other” and are both aimed at service entry in the second quaretr of 2016.
Development of the -1B, a significantly different engine in detail design for Boeing’s 737 MAX, is tracking roughly nine months behind. Firm configuration is due to be fixed in September with design freeze in mid-2013. The engine is due to enter service on the 737 MAX in the fourth quarter of 2017.