CFM International's eCore 1 is on schedule to begin Phase 2 of an extensive test program in the first quarter of 2010 as development continues on the company's advanced LEAP-X engine program.
LEAP-X is a totally new centerline engine launched to power the next-generation of short-to-medium range aircraft. In December 2009, the LEAP-X1C was selected as the sole Western powerplant for China's new C919 airplane scheduled to enter commercial service in 2016.
The foundation of the LEAP-X engine is heavily rooted in advanced aerodynamics, environmental, and materials technology development programs. eCore 1 features an eight-stage high-pressure compressor, an advanced version of the TAPS II lean burn, low emissions combustor, and a single-stage high-pressure turbine. Phase 1 testing began on schedule in June 2009 in a special altitude test chamber at GE Aviation facilities in Evendale, Ohio, and the hardware ran for approximately 35 hours.
For this first phase, we focused on the combustor and the high-pressure turbine, said Ron Klapproth, LEAP program director for CFM International. And we couldn't be happier with the results. The hardware met all of our expectations and then some. Now, we going to focus on the high-pressure compressor.
The heavily instrumented core tests approximately 2,000 different engine parameters. The unique core test facility allows CFM to put the hardware through its paces by simulating both ground and altitude conditions over a much greater operating range than could be conducted with a full engine test. It allows engineers to see how the core behaves outside of standard operating conditions at extremes the hardware would never encounter in typical commercial airline service.
Our engines operate an average eight to 10 cycles per day and, in that environment, reliability simply cannot be compromised, said Klapproth. That is why we will be running multiple core tests over the next few years. We will complete these tests well in advance of the earliest entry into service to ensure our customers that we will provide their operators with absolutely the highest levels of reliability from day one.
The current test program focuses on aerodynamic performance parameters; the aeromechanical properties of the blades and how they respond to vibration and natural frequencies; and operability to ensure the engine maintains the CFM reputation for stall-free operation. All of the data collected from these tests will feed into eCore 2, which features a two-stage turbine and is on schedule to begin testing in mid-2011.
Another technology highlight of the revolutionary LEAP-X engine include the 3-D Woven Resin Transfer Molding (RTM) composite fan and case.
This Snecma proprietary technology has been under development for several years and will dramatically reduce engine weight while providing a more durable blade. In January 2009, CFM initiated ground test of a full-scale RTM fan installed on a CFM56-5C engine. The program, dubbed MASCOT (Moteur a Aubes de Soufflante en COmposite Taille), is validating this revolutionary technology in a CFM-sized fan.
At Snecma facilities in Villaroche, France, the MASCOT engine completed aerodynamic and performance testing before going to Peebles. It has successfully completed extensive crosswind testing and is currently undergoing acoustics testing to measure noise levels under various operating conditions.
The engine has been returned to France and is scheduled to begin a grueling 5,000-cycle endurance test in the second quarter of 2010.
Results to date are very positive and are inline with pre-test expectation and CFM will continue to refine and test various blade designs to identify the optimum configuration for the first full LEAP-X1C engine test in early 2013. The LEAP-X fan will feature 18 blades, a 50 percent reduction versus the CFM56-5C and 25 percent fewer blades than the CFM56-7B.
CFM International is a 50/50 joint company between Snecma (Safran Group) and General Electric Company. It is the world's leading producer of commercial aircraft engines, with more than 20,250 delivered since the company's formation in 1974.