With more than 17,000 CFM-56 engines in service internationally, CFM’s president Eric Bachelet is justifiably a happy man. Speaking to Flight Daily News just before the start of the show, Bachelet says the business is thriving following two good years in 2005 and 2006 when more than 3,700 engines were ordered.

“Load factors internationally are good and traffic is growing too in China, India, the Middle East, South America and Eastern Europe,” he says. “By the end of May 2007 – only five months remember – we had 900 fresh orders on the books worth more than $6-billion, and this total may increase to 1,000 by the time the show at Le Bourget closes.

“Production levels will increase to around 1,300-1,400 next year, which is necessary to deal with an orders backlog of more than 4,000 and I anticipate that this production level will be maintained at least to 2010.”

As an illustration of what this means in real terms, a CFM-56 comes off the production lines every four hours and the number of engines produced is by far the largest of any commercial turbofan engine in aviation history. More than 6,800 CFM56-powered aircraft are in service worldwide with around 480 customers.

CFM’s upgrades – Tech56 and Leap56 – have received widespread acceptance in the industry, and the company has so far spent around $1.6 billion on R&D since 1994.

On Track
The Tech Insertion programme for the CFM56-5B/P was certified in September 2006; aircraft certification is on track for Q3 2007 and the updated engine is scheduled for entry into service (EIS) before the end of this year.

Leap56 – with its composite fan/fan case and new materials in the HPT and LPT turbines – will give a noise reduction of 10/15dB and 10-15% lower fuel burn, with NOx cut by up to 60%. With a 25% improvement in time-on-wing and a reduction of around 15% in maintenance costs, the programme is proving popular with customers.  Bachelet says the reduced carbon emissions on a 10-aircraft fleet would be equivalent of planting 6,800 acres of trees every year.

Referring to what comes next in narrowbody single-aisle airliners, Bachelet says “CFM and its parent companies GE & Snecma are working to be ready for when the aircraft makers want a new engine. We will be ready to support a potential EIS in the middle of the next decade – but between now and then advanced technologies need to be implemented in every part of the engine, including the fan; higher bypass ratios in the order of 9:1; composite fan blades using 3D woven techniques; and a resin transfer moulded fan blade casing.”

Bachelet says that the new core is likely to have a 15:1 pressure ratio and that the 100-million hours of experience on the CFM-56, with third-generation 3D aero technology on the -5B and -7 engines, will be hugely relevant. Combustion technology will also be important, he says, along with further research into single stage turbines with high loading; the aero efficiency of the low pressure turbines; and the possible use of ceramic matrix composites for the high pressure section.

Source: Flight Daily News