FARNBOROUGH: CFM looks to further evolution of Leap

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CFM International is promising to reduce the weight of the Leap engine by "hundreds of pounds" by increasing the use of ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) and other advanced materials after the powerplant enters service in 2016.

At a briefing at the show today, the GE-Snecma joint venture said the current Leap engine was "just the first step in a new generation of technologies" being worked on by both partners.

"We have a lot of developments in our pipeline," says executive vice-president Cedric Goubet. "Hundreds of pounds of weight could still come off the engine."

His fellow executive vice-president, Allen Paxson, lists some areas where new materials could be deployed. CMC materials currently used in components such as the high-pressure turbine shroud "will increase over time", he says, and additive manufacturing processes, at present employed to make fuel nozzles, "will propagate".

However, CFM president Jean-Paul Ebanga cautions that the introduction of new technologies must not disrupt a demanding production ramp-up, as the engine that will power all Boeing 737 Max and Comac C919 narrowbodies, as well as around half of all Airbus A320neo-family aircraft, begins to replace the CFM56 from 2016.

"The air transport industry depends on our ability to execute," he says. "We need to do it right."