FARNBOROUGH: CFM to certify step decrease in 737 fuel burn by end July

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CFM International says it will certificate its upgraded CFM56-7BE engine for the Next Generation Boeing 737 with the US Federal Aviation Administration and European Aviation Safety Agency by the end of July, replacing the existing -7B engine on the Boeing production line by mid-2011.

Speaking at a pre-show interview on Saturday, CFM president Eric Bachelet said testing has verified that improvements in blade and vane design, along with casing and seal technology, will provide the promised 1% decrease in specific fuel consumption.

CFM says the engine, which features 9% fewer aerofoils and reduced operating temperatures, will also decrease maintenance costs by 4%.

Combined with Boeing-designed modifications to the engine nozzle and plug and other aerodynamic improvements on the airframe, Boeing says the next generation 737 will offer a 2% overall fuel consumption.

Testing to date includes six engines performing 450h of ground and flight testing, with Boeing set to perform post-certification trials on a Boeing 737 later this year in preparation for the performance and cabin improvement package certification next year.

CFM says it remains in discussions with Airbus for a similar upgrade to the CFM56-5B engines for the A320. The engine maker is also considering a technology insertion option as a retrofit package. The -7BE engine will be backward compatible to airframes with an existing -7B engine, CFM adds.

The -7BE "evolution" engine is on the leading edge of much larger improvements to come with the CFM Leap-X engine series, slated for first use on the Comac 919 when it enters service in 2016.

Leap-X is designed to provide a 15% decrease in specific fuel consumption through a doubling of the bypass and core pressure ratios, along with reductions in nitrogen oxides emissions through new combustor technologies.

Comac has projected it will sell 2,500 of the narrowbody aircraft both domestically and internationally. A launch customer is likely to be revealed at the Zhuhai Airshow this November, says CFM.