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PARIS: CFM expects Leap-1A certification in 'coming weeks'

CFM International plans to wrap up certification testing "within the coming weeks" for the Airbus A320neo-family's Leap-1A turbofan option after completing a milestone test on 13 June, the engine maker's executive vice-president Allen Paxson has disclosed.

Flight testing of the Leap-1A on board the A320neo began on 19 May without the engine first achieving certification, but Airbus is operating the aircraft under no restrictions, Paxson told Flightglobal in an interview.

The CFM joint venture has completed more than half of the required certification testing so far, with several of the most critical tests already undertaken.

The most recent example of a completed certification is the so-called block triple redline test, which runs the engine at maximum fan speed, maximum core speed and maximum exhaust gas temperature.

Although originally scheduled to be completed by December 2014, clearing the challenging triple-redline hurdle now leaves few obstacles in the way of engine certification.

CFM plans to run rain ingestion testing imminently and wrap up the remaining tests within the coming weeks, adds Paxson.

All three variants of the Leap engine series – including the Leap-1A, the Leap-1B for the Boeing 737 Max and the Leap-1C for the Comac C919 – are running within 0.5%, plus or minus, across all performance categories, he says.

"Some of them are a half percent better. Some of them are a half percent off of that calculation, but they're all right around that average," Paxson says.

The specific fuel consumption performance will meet CFM's promised performance specifications when the Leap-1A-powered A320neo is ready to enter into service, he adds. The A320neo is scheduled to enter service in 2016, followed by the 737 Max in 2017.

"We're right on plan, but that's not to say there have not been any bumps," Paxson says.

Keeping the engine performance on track has required minor design changes, he adds. The joint venture has changed the way the clearance control system for the blade tips is actuated, and has thickened the leading edge of the first stage of the compressor to better withstand icing ingestion.

The quote in the fourth-to-last paragraph has been added for clarity, and the follow-on sentence amended accordingly

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