Jet engine maker begins key engine tests

A GE Aviation joint venture has started testing on the company’s next commercial engine to come to market, a major milestone in engine development.

West Chester Twp.-based CFM International, a joint venture of GE Aviation and French company Snecma, ran its first test Sept. 4 on the LEAP engine. During the test, the engine reached full take-off thrust.

The LEAP engine, which began development in 2008, is expected by the company to enter service in 2016 on an Airbus A320neo aircraft. It will be the first by GE Aviation or related companies to contain components made using the 3-D manufacturing process. LEAP will also achieve 15 percent better fuel burn compared to the current CFM56 family of engines manufactured by CFM International.

“In the past five years, we have completed thousands of hours of component testing leading up to this day,” said Chaker Chahrour, executive vice president of CFM International, in a statement issued Sept. 6. “Now, we get to put it through its paces in the most comprehensive test program we have ever undertaken. By the time this engine enters services, we will have simulated more than 15 years of airline service with 60 different engine builds.”

Tests will be conducted over the next three years at multiple GE facilities. Once complete, documentation will be submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration for certification, CFM officials said.

The LEAP engine will be put through tests to verify fuel efficiency; replicate various environments the engine will encounter in commercial service including monsoon-level rain storms to hail and strong winds; and to confirm the engine is durable, Jamie Jewell, CFM spokeswoman, said.

“The most important questions we are trying to answer are: will it deliver the fuel efficiency and environmental levels we promised? Will it be reliable? Will it be durable? Does this engine delivery everything we have promised our customers?” Jewell said in an email. “We want to find any potential problems in our test program and fix them before the customer ever gets the first engine.”

GE Aviation, including CFM, employs about 8,600 in the Cincinnati-Dayton region.

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