Pratt & Whitney says it expects to release the first new spare parts for the CFM International CFM56-3 by mid-year, following the launch of its Global Material Solution (GMS) initiative in February 2006 aimed at supporting the aftermarket for the popular Boeing 737 “Classic.”

P&W GMS programme director Jim Pennito says the first parts will be avialable within "60 to 90 days" and adds the first P&W-built life-limited CFM56-3 parts have been delivered for test at the company’s East Hartford site in Connecticut. The parts, which include discs, shafts and spools, form part of a second tranche of spares also being developed under its GMS plan. US FAA certification of the first set of “gas path” parts, mostly low and high pressure turbine (LPT/HPT) elements, is also close says Pennito. “We’ve delivered the data packages to the FAA and they’re in the process of being reviewed. We expect initial approval in the second quarter.”

P&W, which has used its own design and development know-how to produce 11 new parts, originally forecast certification for the first phase items by the end of the first quarter 2007. “The PMA (parts manufacturer approval) certification process is a bit different to what we’re used to as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM),” says Pennito who adds the entire package, including the life-limited parts, is still on track for completion by the first quarter of 2008.

So far only United Airlines has been identified as launch customer but others are “close to signing,” adds P&W president Steve Finger. “Some others want to see the first parts certificated and delivered, while others want to see it in service and others are stuck with existing long term arrangements and will just have to wait to sign up.”

“We’re still talking with the FAA about how to package it, but we expect the life-limited parts testing to be more like a conventional certification plan,” adds Pennito. Tests on one of two P&W-acquired CFM56 test engines are due to start in July. “The engine will run at max speeds and temperatures, just like a standard ‘red line’ test,” he says.

Unlike previous PMAs in which outside manufacturers simply replicate the OEM parts, P&W’s GMS plan includes bringing longer life and improved performance to the new parts while, at the same time, keeping them completely interchangeable. “We’re looking at the design of individual parts and identifying the life-limited locations and predicting what that will be. We are determining if there is any advantage to changing it and we’re in the process of doing that right now,” says Pennito. “Ultimately we’d like to evolve this to a 20,000 cycle turbofan with two (inspection) intervals.”

Source: Flight International