Although enginemaker CFM International has stopped short of announcing a replacement for its CFM56, the company said yesterday in Paris that it was beginning a new programme called LEAP56 (leading edge aviation propulsion), designed to position the existing engine family - and possible new products - for future single-aisle aircraft.
"We believe that any new products entering the commercial market over the next decade will need to be substantially better than those they will replace," said Pierre Fabre, CFM's president and chief executive.
"Meeting the requirements we anticipate in the future will be extremely challenging, requiring a quantum leap in technology across the board.
"Project TECH56 has been an unqualified success and will bring tremendous value to our current operators. However, we need to continue investing in technology for the long-term success of our products.
"With LEAP56, we have started the fundamental technology work that will position CFM in the market for the next 30 years and beyond."
Fabre says future CFM engines will focus on several significant goals: Lower total operating cost, including lower maintenance expenditure; more robust and simple designs; dramatically lower noise and emissions; an optimised engine cycle; advanced controls technology; and improved systems integration as well as the development of engine diagnostic technologies.
Continued high oil prices means that improved fuel burn is of critical importance, while next-generation environmental legislation is likely to concentrate on reducing both noise and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions. It is these issues that LEAP56 technology will concentrate on, as well as a significant improvement in 'on wing' reliability to reduce overall service costs.
CFM International's existing CFM56-5B/CFM56-7B 'Tech Insertion' package is on schedule for entry into service in the first half of 2007.
The programme, which CFM officially launched in September 2004, incorporates advanced technologies developed and validated as part of Project TECH56 to provide operators with lower maintenance costs, lower NOx emissions and better fuel burn.
CFM56 Tech Insertion will become the new production configuration for both the CFM56-7B and CFM56-5B in early 2007. CFM is also defining potential upgrade kits that could be made available to operators by late 2007. There are currently more than 5,400 CFM56-5B and CFM56-7B engines in service on Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 aircraft.
The first full engine is scheduled to go on test in the third quarter of 2005, followed by hail ingestion, block, and flight tests on GE's modified 747 flying testbed in the fourth quarter. Airbus and Boeing flight tests are scheduled for 2006, with engine certification expected in the third quarter.
Source: Flight Daily News