FARNBOROUGH July 17, 2006 With the LEAP56 program, CFM International (CFM) and its parent companies, Snecma (Safran Group) and General Electric Company, are pursuing a series of advanced technologies to address the extremely challenging requirements anticipated for the future. Achieving those goals will represent a quantum shift in aircraft engine design.
"CFM has implemented a comprehensive technology acquisition and maturation plan that will completely change the game for high-cycle engines," said Eric Bachelet, president and CEO of CFM. "Using the CFM56-5B and CFM56-7B as our baseline, we have laid out a roadmap that we believe will solidify CFM's technology leadership position for the next 30 years and beyond."
As part of LEAP56, CFM is focusing on technology development that encompasses every major engine component, from the fan to the low-pressure turbine, and on next-generation engine controls while evaluating several potential engine architectures. Sophisticated materials technologies (new super-alloys, 3-D resin transfer molding (RTM), ceramic matrix, and other advanced composites) are being evaluated, along with next-generation 3-D aerodynamics, cooling technology, a low-emissions combustor, and advanced acoustic treatments.
With this technology, CFM is targeting significant improvements, including 10 - 15 percent lower specific fuel consumption; a 15 - 25 percent reduction in maintenance costs, an initial on-wing life increase of 25 percent; and emissions, specifically NOx, that are 50 percent lower, all compared to today's industry-leading CFM56-5B and CFM56-7B powerplants for the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737s aircraft families. The operational benefits will be balanced against potentially more stringent noise requirements. All of these goals will be accomplished while maintaining-or even improving on-the incomparable reliability standards being set by these CFM56 engines today.
"We've gotten very good results so far from the component tests we've run over the past year on a new composite fan, an advanced compressor design, next-generation TAPS (twin-annular, pre-swirl) combustor technology, and next-generation high- and low-pressure turbine technologies based on developments from Project TECH56. Development activities will continue to escalate over the next several months," said Bachelet.
The continued volatility of fuel prices will have a major impact on airline requirements going forward. Extending engine time on wing will also be a big driver. Consequently, engine manufacturers must find the right balance between lower fuel burn and low maintenance costs. However, the greatest challenge will come from environmental requirements; significant reductions in required noise and emissions levels will necessitate a step change in technology.