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CFM unveils first LEAP-X composite fan

4th March 2009 - 17:22 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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MASCOT, the first LEAP-X technology demonstrator engine to feature a complete fan using 3-D woven, resin-transfer-moulded blades, has been unveiled by CFM International. The engine – a CFM56-5C with the fan replaced – features 18 of the blades, compared with the 36 metallic blades used on engines of this type in service.

LEAP-X is the programme designed to create a new centreline engine by 2016 which will lower fuel consumption (and therefore carbon emissions) by 16%, have NOx emissions more than 60% lower than CAEP 6 standards, and have 10-15 dB lower noise than Stage 4 requirements. Envisaged to feature on the replacements for the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families, the engine will bring significant savings to airlines in operating costs, but also in infrastructure costs such as the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme.

Each blade on the MASCOT engine is half the weight of a metallic blade. With fewer blades used, the weight saving on a production LEAP-X engine – when combined with a casing made by resin transfer moulding – will be approximately 1,000 lb per aircraft.

MASCOT (a French acronym: Moteur A Souflante COmposite Taille) is currently on test at the Villaroche facility of the company’s joint parent Snecma in France. Jerome Friedel, chief engineer, LEAP-X, reported that performance has been as planned. The engine will be shipped to GE’s facility at Peebles, near Cincinnati, in April for acoustic and crosswind tests before returning to Villaroche for a 5,000 cycle endurance test. The test campaign is scheduled to finish by September.

Materials development at Villaroche will also take weight out of the low-pressure turbine (LPT) of the LEAP-X engine. Ceramic-matrix composites (CMCs) will replace metal in the blades of the LPT. These blades plus the lighter disk – which can be used because of the reduction of forces resulting from lighter blades – will generate a weight saving of around 175 lb in the LEAP-X engine or 350 lb per aircraft. The first full CMC LPT will be ready in 2010.

A LEAP-X core is now in build-up and is due to begin testing in the middle of this year. This Core 1 engine will have an eight-stage compressor plus one-stage high-pressure turbine (HPT), similar to the current CFM56. A second engine, Core 2, featuring a 10-stage compressor and two-stage HPT – “a new architecture more like the big engines” – will begin testing in 2011.

In the combustor, the second generation version of CFM’s Twin Annular Pre-Swirl combustor – TAPS II – will be used. This lean-burn technology is key to the reduction of NOx emissions.

CFM’s executive vice-president, Olivier Savin, confirmed that if the requirement for the airframers turns out to be later than 2016, then technologies currently “at lab level” but which could come to maturity in the timeframe, would be likely additions to the final engine offered.

Bernie Baldwin, editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/LARAnews.net

 

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