PARIS: CFM leaps to A321neo defence despite orders disparity

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CFM International has doubled-down on its defence of the Leap-1A's suitability for the Airbus A321neo, saying the next-generation powerplant will have a 3% fuel-efficiency advantage over the rival Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM on the aircraft.

The engine manufacturer foresees the Leap-1A on the A320 being 1% more fuel efficient at entry into service, gaining a further 1% advantage on slower performance degradation over the lifetime of the engine. For the larger A321, the Leap-1A's performance will only improve because the aircraft will fly longer stage lengths on average, says CFM executive vice-president Chaker Chahrour.

"I'm going to tell you today that one plus one on the A321 is going to equal three," he said at Le Bourget on the eve of the Paris air show.

Since April, CFM has been forced to defend the Leap-1A's performance on the A321 as P&W's lead widened on the initial wave of engine orders for the aircraft type.

But CFM argues that the vast majority of A321 airline customers have yet to select an engine, and only a few decisions could dramatically sway the order count. Moreover, CFM does not concede a performance advantage to P&W with the Leap-1A on the A321neo, as it does concede in the head-to-head competition between the CFM56 and International Aero Engines V2500 on the current A321.

"The truth is we're better positioned on the A321(neo) than we are on A320(neo)," says CFM president Jean-Paul Ebanga.