LOS ANGELESAirbus flew the first CFM Leap-1A-powered A320neo at its facility in Toulouse, France on May 19, marking the start of an intense test and certification campaign due to culminate in a 2016 first-delivery date. 

The Leap-1A is one of three new-generation CFM engine variants under development to succeed the CFM56, and becomes the first of the family to fly on its intended platform. The engine—which competes on the A320neo with Pratt & Whitney’s PW1100G geared turbofan—has also been flying for several months on General Electric’s Boeing 747 flying testbed in California.

CFM, which is a General Electric and Snecma joint venture, is also developing the Leap-1B for the competing Boeing 737 MAX, as well as the Leap-1C for the Comac C919. The MAX engine flew for the first time on the flying testbed on April 29, while the C919 engine became airborne for the first time on the same testbed in early October 2014.  The Leap-1A is designed to replace the CFM56-5 that originally powered the original Airbus A320 for its first flight in February 1987.

CFM says the engine “performed well throughout the flight envelope,” during its 4 hr., 25 min. flight, and adds it is on track for joint FAA and EASA certification later this summer, with almost 60% of the required reports submitted and approved to date. The first Leap-powered A320neo, MSN 6419, joins two PW1100G-powered NEOs already in the test program. In total, eight A320neo-family aircraft will be involved in the certification effort, including an additional Leap-1A-powered A320. The remainder will be made up of two Airbus A319neos and two Airbus A321neos.

Since the Leap was chosen as a competing powerplant for the A320neo in December 2010, CFM says orders and commitments have been taken for 2,508 engines, representing 55% of the NEO orders to date for which an engine selection has been made. In terms of published firm orders, the overall CFM number accounts for just over 1,200 aircraft, or 32% of the overall tally, with 1,000 aircraft—or 26%—allotted to Pratt, and almost 1,600—or 42%—still to be decided officially. 

CFM’s test campaign, meanwhile, continues to accelerate with more than 30 engines of all three models either in testing or in final assembly. To date, the company has logged more than 3,660 certification test hours, and over 5,460 test cycles. The total test program will include 28 ground and CFM flight-test engines, along with 32 flight-test engines for the three aircraft manufacturers. CFM forecasts that over the three-year development-and-certification effort, these engines will accumulate approximately 40,000 engine cycles leading up to entry into service.