CFM56: one billion flight-hours, 20 milestones

June 5, 2019

As the CFM56 fleet passes the landmark of 1 billion flight-hours, we take a look back at 20 moments that marked the history of this best-selling aircraft engine.

November 1971: technical collaboration agreement

René Ravaud and Gerhard Neumann, the respective heads of Snecma and General Electric Aircraft Engines, sign a technical collaboration agreement to jointly develop a “10-tonne thrust” engine to power future single-aisle commercial airplanes. GE and Snecma already work together on General Electric’s CF6 engine.

May 1973: Nixon and Pompidou clear the way

The program slowed down in 1972, but at the summit meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland in May 1973, French and American presidents Georges Pompidou and Richard Nixon remove the political roadblocks.

June 1974: first ground tests

Ground tests of the first complete CFM56-2 engine start on June 20, 1974 in Evendale, Ohio – a striking technical success!

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September 1974: creation of CFM International

On September 24, the official founding of CFM International, as a 50/50 joint company. This unique partnership is based on several simple rules: all development, sales and support activities are split 50/50, with each company producing half of the engine; the revenue from the sale of new engines and spare parts is also split 50/50.

March 1979: first order

The CFM56 made its first flight on a Caravelle flying testbed on March 17, 1977. In early 1979, the engine is ready to go… but still looking for customers! On March 29, United Airlines announces an order to reengine 30 Douglas DC8-71 jetliners with the CFM56-2. This is followed by orders from Delta Airlines and Flying Tigers (now part of FedEx), then the U.S. Air Force, which opts for the CFM56 to reengine its KC135 tankers. The CFM story is off to a flying start!

April 1982: entry into service

The first commercial flight of a CFM56 takes place on April 24, 1982 on a Delta DC-8-71 flying from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia.

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March 1984: first flight of a CFM56-powered Boeing 737

The first flight of the Boeing 737-300 powered by the CFM56-3, specially developed to reengine the 737, takes place in March 1984, followed by its service entry in December. This is just the beginning of its huge market success. At the same time, CFM is working with Airbus to develop an engine for its new single-aisle 150-seater, the A320.

December 1984: the ramp-up begins

300 CFM56 engines were delivered in 1984.

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February 1987: CFM powers Airbus!

The CFM56-5A logs its first flight on an A320 on February 22, 1987, with the CFM-powered A320-210 entering revenue service in April 1988. Within a few years, the CFM56-5B will be the engine offered on the entire A320 family. CFM will also become a partner on the Airbus widebody line, as the CFM56-5C, the most powerful engine in this family, enters service on the long-range, four-engine A340 in 1993.

December 1991: unprecedented production

Nearly 900 CFM56 engines (-2,-3 and -5) are delivered in 1991.

1993: Boeing confirms

Boeing chooses the CFM56-7 in 1993 as the exclusive engine for the Next- Generation 737, after a hard-fought battle between engine-makers, confirming the original agreement signed with CFM in 1982. The first flight of a CFM56-7B-powered Boeing Next-Generation 737 jetliner takes place in February 1997.

December 1999: 1000 engines a year!

CFM reaches the threshold of 1,000 engines per year!

2004: even higher performance CFM56 engines

CFM offers "Tech Insertion" packs for engines already in service, significantly reducing fuel consumption, emissions and maintenance costs. These improvements will be applied to all production engines starting in 2007.

July 2005: 15,000th CFM56

CFM passes the milestone of 15,000 CFM56 engines produced. At the Paris Air Show, CFM International unveils its Leading Edge Advanced Propulsion (LEAP) initiative, entailing the preparatory steps for the launch of a new engine.

July 2008: partnership extended to 2040

GE and Snecma extend their partnership until the year 2040, and expand the agreement to include aftermarket services.

December 2013: 1,500 engines/year, a new milestone

CFM sets a new production record, delivering 1,502 CFM56 engines in 2013!

December 2016: production peak

1,693 CFM56 engines (CFM56-5B and -7BE) and 77 LEAP engines were delivered in 2016.

December 2017: production ramp-down begins

1,444 CFM56 engines are delivered in 2017, while ramp-up in LEAP production continues, with 459 delivered. The CFM56 fleet passes 500 million cycles and has logged nearly 900 million flight-hours since entering service in April 1982.

December 2018: a year of transition

CFM sets a new record, delivering 2,162 CFM56 and LEAP engines in 2018 – up 13.6%. For the first time, more LEAP engines than CFM56 engines are delivered: 1,118 versus 1,044.

April 2019: Thanks a billion!

The CFM56 fleet reaches one billion flight-hours, representing more than 35 billion passengers carried! More than 33,400 CFM56 engines have been delivered to date and 28,000 are now in service with some 600 operators worldwide.

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CFM International

The Power of Flight

A 50/50 joint company between GE (USA) and Safran Aircraft Engines (France), we develop, produce and sell the new advanced-technology LEAP engine and the world's best-selling CFM56 engine.

Press Contacts

Jamie Jewell, +1 513.885.2282, jamie.jewell@ge.com

Charles Soret, +33 (0), charles.soret@safrangroup.com