Following the recent maiden flight of the Boeing 737 Max, featuring LEAP-1B engines, each containing 19 3D printed fuel nozzles, Airbus has now also received the first production LEAP-1A engines from CFM for their Airbus A320neo.
The LEAP jet engines have been developed by CFM International, a joint venture between GE Aviation and French aircraft engine manufacturer Snecma. Their 3D printed nozzles are five times more durable than the ones of the previous model. Moreover, producing the nozzles using 3D printing technology allowed for a simpler design with a reduced number of brazes and welds.
The LEAP-1A flew for the first time on the Airbus A320neo in May last year. A second A320neo was added to the test program in September of last year and, in February 2016, the LEAP engine was the first to power the new A321neo. Up until now, the three aircraft have a combined total of over 285 flights and more than 800 hours of flight testing.
The LEAP engine will lead to double-digit improvements in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Moreover, the new engines produce less noise and exhaust gaseous emissions.
Allen Paxson, executive vice president at CFM explains: “The next challenge is entry into service. We have been working close with our customers on tooling and training and have been stress-testing our support infrastructure for several months. We expect the LEAP-1A commercial introduction to be one of the smoothest we have ever had.”