CFM is increasing the war of words in the intensifying battle with Pratt & Whitney (P&W) over the Airbus A320NEO.

CFM says its Leap-1A powerplant on the A320NEO will require 40 fewer fuel tank refills per year than the PW1100G geared turbofan. Together with predicted savings from fewer maintenance visits, CFM says the Leap could be $3-4 million cheaper per aircraft over 15 years based on net present value.

CFM56 General Manager Chaker Chahrour acknowledges that material, such as ceramic matrix composites, will make the Leap more expensive to buy, but adds this will be more than offset by the engine’s estimated 2-2.5% fuel burn advantage that CFM claims over the P&W engine. Chahrour also applies the same argument to the higher maintenance costs associated with the additional turbine stages in the Leap.

The two engine makers go head-to-head over the A320NEO, with the P&W engine due to enter service in 2015 and the Leap in 2016. CFM claims just over half of the current declared market, though this could change soon with several A320NEO engine selections expected to be announced in the coming days.

According to published figures, CFM claims 62% of firm orders for 100-seat-plus aircraft placed to-date during 2012. This means that 480 of the 772 aircraft ordered so far this year will be CFM56-powered.

According to CFM, the Leap-1A will require two fewer shop visits over its life cycle, compared with the PW1100G. “That’s two out of five or six, so that’s a big percentage, which is huge,” says Chahrour. CFM also estimates the reliability of the Leap will be better with a forecast of 10 fewer engine-related delays per engine per year.

Development of the -1A engine remains on track for the start of the first full engine test in the third quarter of 2013, and first flight on General Electric’s Boeing 747 flying testbed in mid-2014. Ostensibly, this will be led by the practically identical -1C variant for China’s Comac C919. However, Chahrour says the Airbus and Comac schedules are currently “on top of each other” and are both aimed at service entry in the second quarter of 2016.

Development of the -1B, a significantly different engine in detail design for Boeing’s 737 MAX, is tracking roughly nine months behind. Firm configuration is due in September, followed by design freeze in mid-2013. The engine is expected to enter service on the 737 MAX in the fourth quarter of 2017.