Jet engine builder CFM International reported ground testing of the first LEAP-1B engine has begun, three days ahead of schedule at a test cell maintained by Snecma in Villaroche, France. Reportedly, the engine completed a series of “break-in” runs before achieving its full takeoff thrust.
The LEAP-1B is one of three variants for a new, high-bypass turbofan engine being developed by CFM International, a joint venture co-owned by GE Aviation and Snecma, the French aircraft and aerospace group.
According to CFM, the LEAP-1B engine is part of the most extensive ground and flight test certification program in its history, part of a manufacturing program (including all three LEAP engine variants) that includes multiple ground and flight test engines, including flight test engines for Airbus, Boeing, and COMAC, the OEMs that have selected the LEAP engines for future jet programs.
According to CFM, over the next three years these engines will accumulate approximately 40,000 engine cycles before the first commercial service begins.
Boeing has selected the LEAP-1B for its 737 MAX jets, the new model that is the next installment in the 737 series. It is scheduled to debut in less than three years.
"CFM has a proven history of delivering the most reliable, high-performing engines in the single-aisle market," stated Keith Leverkuhn, vice president and general manager of the 737 MAX program for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "The start of testing on the LEAP-1B engine for the 737 MAX demonstrates that we are on track to deliver the most fuel-efficient single-aisle airplane family in the industry in 2017."
Testing of the engine will continue for several weeks as CFM works to verify its mechanical operation, operability (stall margin), and engine starts. It also will be seeking further validation on some advanced engine technologies, including the woven carbon-fiber composite fan, the Twin-Annular, Pre-Mixing Swirler (TAPS) combustor, ceramic matrix composite shrouds in the high-pressure turbine and the titanium-aluminide blades in the low-pressure turbine.
The LEAP-1B is optimized for the 737 MAX with a smaller, highly efficient core that benefits from the above mentioned design factors.
"We are really excited to have this engine on test. Now that we are running at full power, we can really see what it is capable of," stated Cédric Goubet, executive vice president for CFM. "All of the testing we have done to date has validated the technology choices we made. The LEAP-1B engine will deliver everything we have promised and more."