LE BOURGET, June 13, 2005 CFM International (CFM) and its parent companies, Snecma (Safran Group) and General Electric Company, are laying the technology foundation to position the CFM56 engine family for future single-aisle aircraft.
CFM is engaging in a new technology acquisition and maturation program: LEAP56TM (Leading Edge Aviation Propulsion). "We believe that any new products entering the commercial market over the next decade will need to be substantially better than those they will replace," said Pierre Fabre, president and CEO of CFM. "Meeting the requirements we anticipate in the future will be extremely challenging, requiring a quantum leap in technology across the board. "Project TECH56 has been an unqualified success and will bring tremendous value to our current operators. However, we need to continue investing in technology for the long-term success of our products. With LEAP56, we have started the fundamental technology work that will position CFM in the market for the next 30 years and beyond,"
The continued volatility of fuel prices will also have an impact on airline requirements going forward. Consequently, engine manufacturers will be challenged with finding the right balance between an architecture that that will provide lower fuel burn while maintaining the simple designs that keep maintenance costs low. Extending engine time on wing will also be a big driver. However, the greatest challenge will come from environmental requirements; significant reductions in noise and emissions levels will require a step change in technology.
CFM56 engines developed in the future will focus on several significant goals: lower total operating cost, including lower maintenance cost; more robust designs; dramatically lower noise and emissions; an optimized engine cycle; advanced controls technology; and improved systems integration, as well as development of engine diagnostic technologies.
The company has developed a list of initial technologies to be evaluated, validated and demonstrated through the LEAP56 program. Basic engine design technologies being considered include lightweight structures; advanced composite fan blade technology; power generation; and advanced 3-D compressor and turbine technology.
From a systems point of view, CFM is considering highly reliable, lightweight accessories, low cost external hardware; an advanced, lightweight gearbox; and next-generation controls.