GE Aviation announced on March 26 that it will break ground this year on a new $100 million assembly plant in Lafayette, Ind., to produce Leap engines for narrowbody airliners as part of its CFM International joint venture with France’s Snecma. It expects the plant will create 200 jobs by 2020.
Boeing 737 MAX
Boeing said it has completed aerodynamics, engine and weight audits that together have given it a clearer picture of the future operating performance of the new 737 Max. The manufacturer now says the re-engined narrowbody will burn 14 percent less fuel than today’s 737-800NG, one percent better than it previously estimated.
Engine manufacturer CFM International reports that the Leap series of turbofans under development for the new Airbus A320neo, Boeing 737 Max and Comac C919 narrowbodies is performing as planned since full engine testing began last month. “I’m proud and really happy to tell you that the engine is running smoothly,” Chaker Chahrour, CFM executive vice president, told reporters in a teleconference on October 16. “This engine wants to run.”
CFM International—the 50-50 joint venture between GE and France’s Snecma—has started testing the first full Leap turbofan engine, the company announced Friday. The Leap-1A—one of the powerplant choices for the Airbus A320neo—fired for the first time on September 4, two days ahead of schedule.
Boeing and Ryanair reached terms on the U.S. manufacturer’s largest ever firm aircraft order from a European airline yesterday. The deal, worth $15.6 billion at current list prices, calls for delivery over five years of 175 new Boeing 737-800s starting in September 2014. The order stands to raise Ryanair’s fleet count to more than 400 by the summer of 2018 from about 300 today.
Aircraft propulsion and actuation systems supplier Woodward is nearly doubling its manufacturing footprint in Rockford, Illinois, reflecting the increased content the company has won on new narrowbody aircraft and derivatives.
Pratt & Whitney president Dave Hess, celebrating an “incredible 12 months” of commercial engine activity, has responded to CFM International’s claims that its Leap engine for the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 Max have materials technology leadership over the Pratt & Whitney PurePower geared turbofan.
A switch from composite to titanium for the inner walls of the thrust reversers on the Boeing 737 Max has allowed designers to increase the fan diameter in the airplane’s CFM International Leap-1B turbofans without a proportional increase in the size of the nacelle. The relatively minimal growth of the nacelle means Boeing could keep its original plans for coping with the small amount of ground clearance margin available while optimizing thrust levels, explained 737 Max program vice president and general manager Keith Leverkuhn.
Southwest Airlines has triggered the program launch of Boeing’s 737 Max 7 narrowbody by converting 30 options that it holds for the existing 737 Next Generation family into orders for the new model. The U.S. low-cost carrier expects to take first 737 Max 7 deliveries in 2019. In a deal announced Wednesday, it also has exercised options for five more Next Generation 737-800s.
CFM International last week froze the design of the Leap engine variant destined to power Boeing’s new 737 Max narrowbody. The Snecma-GE joint venture has said it expects to achieve the first full engine test of the Leap-1B in the middle of next year, followed by initial flight-testing in 2015 and powerplant certification in 2016. Boeing expects the 737 Max to enter service in 2017.
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