CFM International's new CFM56-3 core upgrade is currently undergoing engine tests in preparation for certification in early 2002 and entry into service later that year. The upgrade features advanced three-dimensional high-pressure compressor aerodynamics (3-D aero) and new high-pressure turbine hardware.
The program was officially launched last month when Southwest Airlines signed a $300 million agreement to purchase core upgrade kits for 300 CFM56-3 engines in its fleet. More than 4,200 CFM56-3 engines have been produced, and CFM anticipates the market for this upgrade to be about 1,000 engines.
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. This upgrade is designed to give operators better fuel efficiency, lower maintenance costs, and longer on-wing life. To date, CFM has completed more than 220 hours of validation testing. In the next few months, the engine will undergo water ingestion tests, block tests, and endurance tests. In October, the engine will begin a 50-hour flight test program at Boeing on a Classic 737 aircraft. On average, CFM56-3 engines stay on wing 16,000 hours before requiring an initial shop visit and about 10,000 hours after overhaul. By incorporating 3-D aero in the engine's turbomachinery, the CFM56-3 gains an additional 15° centigrade in exhaust gas temperature margin. This additional margin provides significantly more time on wing, thus reducing engine maintenance costs. In addition, the technology provides as much as a 1 percent improvement in specific fuel consumption. The turbine upgrades include new nozzle, blade and shroud materials, as well as improved cooling. These changes extend component life, as well as lower scrap rates and repair costs. Engine operation with this upgrade is seamless to airlines, with no change in power management.
The CFM56-3 is the exclusive powerplant for the Boeing Classic 737-300/-400/-500 series. Southwest was one of the original customers for the CFM56-3-powered Boeing 737 which, today, is the best-selling engine/aircraft combination in history, with 1,987 aircraft in service.