CFM International is studying further weight reductions for the Leap-X engine after becoming satisfied that the baseline design will meet certification requirements.
The General Electric-Snecma joint venture is examining the feasibility of reducing the thickness of the composite blades and fan case for the next-generation narrowbody engine, says Ron Klapproth, LEAP-X programme director.
Internal analysis has confirmed that the current design, which is based on scaling down technology from the widebody-class GEnx-series, is strong enough to pass bird-strike and blade-out tests required to achieve certification, Klapproth says.
By shifting from metal to composite blades, the current design of the 18-blade Leap-X fan reduces overall weight by about 168lb.
To improve the strength, CFM also needed to change the manufacturing process. GEnx blades are fashioned using a two-ply lay-up process. The Leap-X material is manufactured using a 3-dimensional woven resin transfer moulding (RTM) process, improving the blade's strength.
Meanwhile, CFM is building the eCore 2 demonstrator to test Leap-X components. Compared to the eCore 1 rig tests, the new demonstrator adds a second stage to the high pressure turbine. The first dual-spool tests of the low- and high-pressure turbine spools are set to begin later this year.
Snecma has started endurance testing of the 71in-diameter fan derived from the company's Mascot programme.
CFM is preparing the first Leap-X engine for certification in 2014. The Leap-X1C engine has been selected by Comac to power the C919, and is being considered to power the Airbus A320neo.
Source: Air Transport Intelligence news