CFM LEAP accelerating in test program; Airbus and the A350-800

Aviation Week has a long, detailed story about the test program for the CFM LEAP engine, which is accelerating rapidly.

In its 737 MAX program update yesterday, Boeing said the LEAP-1B has begun testing and it will benefit from the testing already underway for the LEAP-1A, the version that is designed for the Airbus A320neo family. The LEAP-1C for the COMAC C919 is on its original schedule for certification in 2015, despite the fact the C919 has slipped to at least 2017, reports AvWeek.

The 737 MAX is exclusively powered by the LEAP, as is the C919. The former has more than 1,600 firm orders and the latter just hit its 400th order/commitment. CFM faces competition on the A320neo family from Pratt & Whitney’s P1000G Geared Turbo Fan, where PW holds a 49% market share against CFM, which previously held a larger, more dominate position in the A320ceo competition. A large number of orders don’t yet have an engine selection.

PW is the sole-source engine provider for the Bombardier CSeries, the Mitsubishi MRJ and the Embraer E-Jet E2. PW splits the engine choice on the Irkut MC-21 (soon to be renamed the YAK 242) with a Russian engine.

Just as Boeing’s LEAP-1B will benefit from the experience of the LEAP-1A now in testing for Airbus, Airbus will benefit from the testing and experience of PW’s testing of the GTF on the Bombardier CSeries.

Aviation Week also has a story about the Airbus A350-800 with the blunt headline, The airplane Airbus doesn’t want to build. This refers to the A350-800. AvWeek muses that the outcome of the merger between US Airways, now the largest customer for the airplane, and American Airlines, may be the deciding factor for the airplane. We agree. With American’s large order for the Boeing 787-9, the A350-800 would be unnecessary.

That would then leave Hawaiian Airlines as a key decision-maker. We hear in the market that Hawaiian is just sitting back and waiting to see what kind of incentives Airbus will offer to entice a switch to the larger A350-900.

24 Comments on “CFM LEAP accelerating in test program; Airbus and the A350-800

  1. The A358XWB in some ways is like the B77L of the family. Bit of a niche plane with excellent capabilities (such as JNB-MIA with a good pax/payload capability), etc. The “downside” is that its not as optimized as its competitor (B789).

    • Guess that’s what happens when you start in the middle and work out versus starting with the small variant and working up. Nothing is wrong with either strategy.

      • I can’t determine any advantages that the A350-800 has over the 787-9. In fact, the 787-9 looks looks the better deal, and sales to date seem to support that conclusion. So…instead of spending all that money to develop an “also ran”, maybe Airbus would be smart to cancel A350-800 development and use the money to focus their efforts elsewhere….like maybe the A350-1100.

      • U-turn said to be planning a large order at Dubai, but doesn’t want 777-X? 50 pcs A350-1100 maybe. For Boeings sake I hope I’m joking.

        • The A350-1100 isn’t ready for prime time, based on our market intelligence. We would guess the Farnborough Air Show would be a better bet.

  2. “Boeing said the LEAP-1B has begun testing and it will benefit from the testing already underway for the LEAP-1A”

    It seems they are trying to suggest the -1B will somehow be better then the -1A, compensating the BPR thing. I guess the -1A will also be improved by finding on the -1B. One could ask where CFM should invest more, on the -1B without competition, or the -1A that is facing fierce competition from the Pratt GTF.. Stupid suggestions aside, I think CFM will keep the LEAP cores and accessories as common as possible.

    It think skipping / delaying the A350-800 will open the door for a serious A330 engine, sharklet, cabin, cockpit maybe even fuselage upgrade..

    • In today’s world the 1A and 1B are different. They have different suppliers for certain accessories and I expect that will continue. Some changes made on the 1B will not be transferrable to the 1A, and some cases that is driven by customers who are exclusive to Boeing and not to Airbus (LUV).

    • About the BPR thing I have one question to the engine experts.

      Is it better to have more or less BPR for hot or high operations?

      • I am no expert on all operational details, but I’d say no difference. It has a difference on the life of most hot engine parts, however, but that is something else.

    • I think Hawaiian will eventually move to the A359XWB though I think the B788 or possibly the B789 might be a great plane for their fleet as well (not that they intend to go with 2 manufacturers).

  3. “I think skipping / delaying the A350-800 will open the door for a serious A330 engine, sharklet, cabin, cockpit maybe even fuselage upgrade”


    I fail to understand your view.

    A simple shrink, non-optimised A350-800, as currently planned, would still overperform any upgraded A330. A simple shrink also would be more easy and less costly to develop than an A330 NEO. What is more, the -800 would have more potential for future improvements.

    Why shouldn’t Airbus go the easy way ? What am I missing ?

    • Remember:
      The 787 is just a cheap chinese copy of the A330 ( with a better engine though)
      A competitive NEOisation of the A330 would give substance to that historic pronouncement 😉

    • Compared to A330-200 OEW even an A350-900 has about 4 t less weight. In my opinion the 9 abreast 3-3-3 seating is more convenient than 8 abreast with 2-4-2 and the A330 fuselage is too small for 10-abreast.

      I can see just one reason for further improving the A330: Airbus can’t deliver enough A350s. What ever the reasons may be…

      The A350 is the A330 upgrade; better wings, better engine, better fuselage …
      Maybe we will see an A350 with smaller wings to close the gap between A321 and A358.

    • Philidor, I think a A330 upgrade would have similar advantages as it’s same generation competitor the 777 and older designs such as 737 and 747.

      – commonality with large operation fleets
      – an existing smooth running sypply chain producing 9 a month as we speak
      – not being sold out until 202x! in competition with rich airlines.
      – great economics up to 300 passenger/ 10 hour flights
      – just right 18 inch wide economy class seats
      – you can sell the existing cargo version with better engines

      I saw numbers suggesting the 787-9 and A350-800 have about the same empty weight (!) The A358 has newer bigger engines, lifts more cargo and has 18inch seatwidth economy class for long flights. 😉 Just jooking, I guess fleet commonality plays a bigger role here then assumed.

      Maybe Airbus wants to produce 20 big twins a month in 2014 iso 14.

      • A330 has one big advantage over the B777, it’s not a long range aircraft, per passenger it is as light as a B787, and if some of the A340 fat can be easily removed it would be lighter. Trent-1000 and GEn-1 are not so new anymore, so a RR-3029 or a GTF engined NEO might make sense. Given the lack of news, announcements or even rumours from Airbus about an A330 successor I don’t think Airbus are near a decision about their future in the 250-300 pax size.

      • Keesje, your approach is quite interesting. Basically, you think demand would allow Airbus to sell both A330NEO and A350 families in the same time frame.

        This would certainly be true if the A330 NEO existed to-day. Would it however be such a success post-2020, with A787s and A350s becoming available … I suppose that Airbus has been assessing the market reaction. I tend to see the ‘regional version’ as a cheap/inferior version of the NEO idea.

        Another issue I should have raised first: is there a fully satisfactory engine for such a A330-NEO project? I am not so sure, the XWB is so big …

  4. It made no sense for airlines to order the A330 after 2005 after the more efficient 787 and A350 were launched. The airlines didn’t agree and ordered 800, and counting.

    I think Airbus McArtor mentioned re-engining the A330 as an option a few weeks ago. Some companies object shutting down smooth running 15bill / year production lines when expanding the product live cycle is relatively simple. Don’t know why, something to do with cash cows?

  5. The LEAP-1B will indeed benefit from the LEAP-1A in terms of reduced development and schedule risk. There may be some initial performance benefits in the common components but successive PIPs will probably even those out over time, in both directions.

  6. Is it me, or does it seem that GE is giving Boeing all, or at least most of, the attention and effort as far as the Leap is concerned? I would think that Airbus or any airline having ordered a NEO with Leap engines would be pretty annoyed with GE.

    Or are they that afraid of the GTF?

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