Australian domestic carrier Virgin Blue has placed a firm order for 50 CFM56-7B-powered Boeing 737 airplanes as part of a new fleet agreement comprising 50 Next-Generation aircraft, with a further 25 option aircraft, as well as securing 30 additional future purchase rights. The firm engine order is valued at approximately $700 million U.S. at list price.
Virgin Blue, which already has a fleet of 83 aircraft, has been a CFM customer since its official launch in August 2000. The airline is scheduled to begin taking delivery of the new aircraft in mid-2011, and all the CFM56-7B engines will be the CFM56-7BE configuration.
The CFM56-7BE-powered Next-Generation 737 enhanced airplane/engine combination will provide a 2 percent improvement in fuel consumption, which, in turn, equates to a 2 percent reduction in carbon emissions. Additionally, the enhanced -7B will provide up to 4 percent lower maintenance costs, depending on the thrust rating.
The CFM56-7BE engine enhancement program was launched in April 2010 with fleet introduction designed to coincide with Boeing Next-Generation 737 airframe improvements.
CFM is using advanced computer codes and three-dimensional design techniques to improve airfoils in the high- and low-pressure turbines to improve engine performance. In addition, CFM is improving engine durability and reducing parts count to achieve lower maintenance costs.
CFM is a 50/50 joint company of Snecma (Safran Group) and General Electric Company. CFM is the world's leading manufacturing of commercial aircraft engines and has produced more than 20,250 engines to date.