GE Aviation-Safran joint venture CFM International has overcome a delay in deliveries of Leap-1A engines to Airbus's A320neo-family production line, the result of supply-chain bottlenecks relating to forgings and castings – but is still battling a three-week lag in deliveries of the Boeing 737 Max-powering Leap-1B.

Speaking at a full-year financial results briefing today, Safran chief executive Philippe Petitcolin said that last year CFM reached a weekly delivery rate of 15-16 Leap-1A engines, in line with Airbus's requirement. The -1A is an option on A320neo-family aircraft.

He says Leap-1A deliveries are now on schedule and that production is on a stable "plateau" as Airbus has no plans for any huge rate increase over the coming months.

That contrasts with the 737 Max, however. "It is a different story, because Boeing is still in a huge ramp-up and increase of production," says Petitcolin.

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Leap output rose to 1,118 engines in 2018, up from 459 in 2017


In 2018, CFM reached a rate of 16-18 Leap-1B deliveries per week, while the US airframer's plan required shipments of "at least 20" engines per week by year-end.

"We are now at a bit more than 20 engines a week, but we have to grow to 30 engines a week by mid-year 2019," says Petitcolin.

He concedes that, in addition to the rate increase, "we have some difficulties to get rid of the delays which we have accumulated at the beginning of the [Leap] programme".

The delay translates to around 70 engines, and the manufacturer intends to get back on schedule with Boeing during the second quarter, he says.

CFM produced a total of 2,162 engines last year across the CFM56 and Leap-series programmes, an increase of 13.6% over 2017.

Leap output rose to 1,118 engines in 2018, up from 459 in 2017. This year, the manufacturer is to increase production to more than 1,800.

CFM56 production declined to 1,044 engines last year, against 1,444 in 2017, and will be further reduced over the next 12 months.

Safran says CFM last year received 3,211 commitments for Leap engines, which brought the powerplant family's total backlog to 15,620.