CFM International started up the first version of its new generation Leap engine at General Electric’s test site in Peebles, Ohio on Sept 4.

The Leap-1A is in development for the Airbus A320NEO, and is the first all-new centerline CFM engine to enter testing since the original CFM56 was developed by the GE Aviation-Snecma joint venture in the 1970s.

The NEO engine is set to begin flight tests on GE’s Boeing 747 flying testbed in September 2014, with FAR33 engine certification expected the following summer.

First flight on the A320NEO is due around the third quarter of 2015 with entry-into-service the following year.

The first run marks the start of a fast-paced test and certification program involving 60 test engines for the -1A and other variants. In conjunction with the Airbus engine, CFM is developing an almost identical -1C variant for the Comac C919, which officially launched the Leap program when the new CFM engine was selected in 2009.

A -1B version is in development for the Boeing 737MAX, which is scheduled for service entry in late 2017.

CFM says the firing up of the Leap-1A two days before scheduled precedes an unprecedented test effort. “By the time this engine enters services, we will have simulated more than 15 years of airline service with 60 different engine builds,” says CFM Executive Vice President Chaker Chahrour.

Detailing the various test engines which will be involved in the overall certification program, CFM says this will includes 28 ground and CFM flight test engines, along with a total of 32 flight test engines for Airbus, Boeing and Comac.

The manufacturer adds that over the next three years, the engines will accumulate approximately 40,000 hr. (18,000 engine cycles) leading up to entry-into-service.

At the time of the engine’s launch in 2008, there was no specific aircraft application, just as with the original CFM56. However, following its launch by Comac as the sole engine choice for the C919 in 2009, Airbus followed in 2010 when it selected the Leap-1A engine as an option along with Pratt & Whitney’s PW1100G on the A320NEO. In 2011 Boeing selected the Leap-1B as the sole powerplant for the 737MAX.