CFM International has completed successful blade-out testing of its next-generation Leap X powerplant.

The tests, run in December at the company's development centre at Villaroche, near Paris, established that the engine's 18-blade 3D composite front fan and composite fan case can contain the loss of one or more blades, and continue operating for a period simulating a return to ground.

Further evidence that the engine, which CFM promises will burn 15% less fuel than the CFM56 it will replace, is on track for first testing in January 2013 and certification in the second quarter of 2014 is welcome news in Villaroche. Programme head Francois Bastin says the programme moved into a sales campaign phase with this week's announcement that Airbus has won a potential order for 150 A320neo airliners, which are being offered for service in 2016 with power by either Leap X or Pratt & Whitney's rival PW1000G.

The order, from Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo, has raised the temperature in Villaroche. IndiGo's existing, current-generation A320s are powered by International Aero Engines V2500s rather than CFM56s, but Bastin and vice president product strategy and market Olivier Longeville say IndiGo is well-known to CFM and that it has had, and is having, Leap X discussions with the Indian carrier.

The key to CFM's Leap X sales pitch, they stress, is the engine maker's confidence that this new powerplant will match the CFM56 for reliability, both in terms of engine endurance and its ability to sustain its specified performance parameters in actual use. That confidence, says Longeville, comes of CFM's selection of breakthrough technologies that are well-proven either in development or actual use in other engines.

Potential customers take as given a 15% fuel burn reduction, says Longeville; the hard part is convincing them they don't have to give anything up to get it.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news