3 core upgrade being developed by CFM International has completed a 50-hour flight test program, in addition to more than 400 hours of ground tests, and is on schedule for certification and initial delivery by mid-year.
CFM International (CFM), the world's leading supplier of commercial aircraft engines, is a 50/50 joint company between Snecma Moteurs (Safran Group) of France and General Electric of the United States.
U.S.-based Southwest Airlines launched the program in 2001 with a $300 million agreement to purchase 300 upgrade kits. More than 4,200 CFM56-3 engines have been produced, and CFM anticipates the market for this upgrade to be about 1,000 engines.
The flight test program was conducted by Boeing Airplane Services at its facilities in Seattle, Washington, on a 737-400 aircraft leased from Alaska Airlines. Two different enginessequentially installed in the No. 2 positionwere used to evaluate performance and operability characteristics throughout the flight envelope. CFM also completed a 150-hour block test at Snecma (Safran Group) facilities in France. As part of certification requirements, the engine was completely disassembled for inspection by regulatory agencies. Despite the grueling nature of this test, the hardware was in like-new condition.
The core upgrade features advanced three-dimensional high-pressure compressor aerodynamics (3-D aero) and new high-pressure turbine hardware. It is designed to give operators better fuel efficiency through a 1 percent improvement in specific fuel consumption and up to 15 degrees additional exhaust gas temperature margin, which reduces maintenance cost through longer on-wing life, versus the current configuration. CFM56-3 engines average 16,000 hours on wing before requiring an initial shop visit and about 10,000 hours after overhaul; the core upgrade will significantly improve post-overhaul time on wing. The turbine upgrades include new nozzle and shroud materials, a new blade coating, and improved cooling. These changes extend component life and lower scrap rates and repair costs. Engine operation with this upgrade is seamless to airlines, with no change in power management.
CFM International is a joint company of Snecma (Safran Group), France and General Electric Company, U.S.A.