Virgin America launched CFM International’s advanced LEAP engine (earlier post) with an order to power 30 new Airbus A320neo aircraft. The airline also announced that CFM’s CFM56-5B will power 30 current technology A320s. The 60 airplanes were announced in January of this year and the engine orders have a combined value of approximately US$1.4 billion at list price.
Both the LEAP and CFM56-5B engines are products of CFM International (CFM), a 50/50 joint company between Snecma (Safran group) and GE. CFM launched the new LEAP-X engine as a totally new centerline engine in 2008. The new airplanes will begin delivery in 2016.
The LEAP engine combines advanced aerodynamic design techniques, lighter, more durable materials, and leading-edge environmental technologies to deliver 15% better engine fuel efficiency. At current fuel prices, this translates to as much as $1.6 million in fuel cost savings per airplane, per year.
The lower fuel burn also reduces CO2 emission by 15% compared to today’s best CFM56 engines, while LEAP’s combustor technology will reduce emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) by 50% compared to current requirements.
The engine cuts noise by as much as 15 decibels, which will keep objectionable noise within the confines of the airport.
Virgin America’s current A320 family fleet is powered by the CFM56; the airline’s current fleet is up to 25% more fuel and carbon efficient than the average fleet flying domestically. The A320neo, along with the CFM LEAP engine will yield even greater efficiencies.
CFM began testing eCore Demonstrator 2 in late May at GE facilities in Ohio, one month ahead of schedule. eCore Demo 2 features a 10-stage high-pressure compressor and two-stage high-pressure turbine, along with the lean burn, low emissions TAPS combustor. CFM will run a third core configuration in 2012, just prior to the first full LEAP-X1C engine test in early 2013.
At the same time, CFM is close to completing a demanding 5,000-cycle endurance test program for the advanced 3-D Woven Resin Transfer Molding (3-DW RTM) fan, along with the composite fan case being developed by Snecma.
With a base of more than 500 customers, and more than 22,200 engines delivered, CFM has completed 21 engine/aircraft certifications on time and on specification. Since the first A320 was launched in 1985, CFM56 engines have been selected to power nearly 60% of all A320 family aircraft.