A programme that began to take shape as a concept nearly eight years ago is finally taking real form inside CFM International's supply chain.
Launched at the 2005 Paris Air Show as a possible CFM56 replacement, the Leading Edge Aviation Propulsion (Leap) programme was at that time intended to supply the next generation of turbofans for all-new single-aisle aircraft by Airbus and Boeing. At that time, few expected a replacement for the A320 or 737 to appear before 2020.
Over the next six years, the single-aisle market evolved rapidly. A competitor, Pratt & Whitney, introduced a new innovation in propulsion called a fan-drive gear system, the Chinese entered the market with a new single-aisle airframe and Airbus and Boeing deferred plans for an all-new single-aisle.
GECAS has selected Leap engines to power 60 A320neos
Instead, the US and European airframers settled for re-engining and updating their products within this decade, with Airbus promising airlines a 15% fuel burn improvement compared to a standard A320, and Boeing - not to be outdone - vowing a 16% upgrade.
Such promises are based almost entirely on the performance of a new generation of single-aisle turbofans developed by P&W and CFM. P&W's PurePower-branded geared turbofan hit the market first. Bombardier selected the PW1500G to power the CSeries, a small narrowbody launched in the 110-149-seat market.