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CFM touts zero-glitch service entry of Leap-1A engine

CFM International has started taking a victory lap with the Leap-1A entry into service record nearly two months after delivery to the Turkish launch customer.

Set against Pratt & Whitney’s early technical and later production delays, the Leap-1A on Pegasus’ first Airbus A320neo has not yet experienced a “single glitch” with nearly two months of flight time, says Pegasus chief executive Mehmet Nane in a statement released on 27 September by the engine manufacturer.

“From day one, we have been able to operate our new A320neos the same as the other aircraft in our fleet,” Nane says. "Most days, we are doing 10 or 11 flights per day. The reliability of the engine is helping to keep us on schedule, allowing us to maintain 30-minute turn times at the gate. Having full use of these assets has given us the flexibility we need to support our daily operations.”

By contrast, airlines flying A320neos powered by the PW1100G have praised the engine’s performance on fuel consumption, but have complained about reliability issues, extended engine start-up times and supply chain problems that have slowed deliveries of 50 engines to customers this year. Despite the early teething issues, however, the PW1100G has maintained a dispatch reliability greater than 99% since operations began.

Nane’s statement validates a series of confident gestures made by CFM executives in the months leading up to the entry-into-service milestone of the Leap-1A.

“It is exciting to see all of the hard work and planning the Pegasus and CFM teams did together yield such an outstanding result. I congratulate them all on a job very well done,” says Jean-Paul Ebanga, CFM’s CEO.

In July CFM officials touted the company’s advanced technical and production preparations for the Leap-1A’s debut in commercial service. The joint venture of GE Aviation and Safran had dispatched customer readiness teams to customers beginning four years ago. The company has been producing more than 1,000 CFM56 engines a year for the last decade, more than triple the output of the P&W-controlled International Aero Engines consortium producing the V2500.

CFM officials have also dismissed questions raised about the Leap-1 engine family’s ability to reach promised fuel efficiency targets. The joint venture has pledged to deliver the Leap-1A with 15% lower fuel consumption than the CFM56. The press released issued on 27 September says the engine has achieved a “double digit” fuel consumption improvement. Asked to clarify, CFM says, “yes, we are showing a 15% improvement with the airlines”.

CFM still plans to introduce reliability improvements on the Leap-1 engine next year to extend time-on-wing. An improved booster design with new blades is scheduled to be released in mid-2017.

UPDATE: Article updated with P&W comment on dispatch reliability of the PW1100G.

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