With almost 12,000 firm Leap engine orders already in the bag, and production accelerating at assembly lines in the U.S. and France, CFM is making an early start on advance preparations for providing MRO for the fleet.
Given the unprecedented speed with which the new fleet will grow over the next four years asand MAX deliveries accelerate, the - joint venture is proactively gearing up its MRO capabilities for both predicted and unforeseen events. Although the first engines are not expected to come in for shop visits in significant numbers until 2019 and beyond, CFM already has certified three GE/Safran/CFM MRO sites—in Belgium, France and the U.S.—to support entry into service.
In terms of MRO, “we believe CFM’s approach is differentiated from the competition,” says Leap Airbus Program Director Jacques Chausse. As the engine’s maker, CFM’s MRO policy for the Leap will follow that developed for the. The company will continue to compete with airlines and independent MRO providers and will not require these support services to be bought solely from CFM.
The newly established Leap production facility in Lafayette, Indiana, is one of the three initially designated CFM MRO facilities, says Chausse. “We are looking at Brussels, Belgium, to support the Leap 1A, the engine for the, while Saint Quentin, France, will support the Leap 1B, which powers the 737 MAX. Lafayette will do both.” Additional non-CFM shops “will be announced later,” he adds. The various facilities are expected to become busy in 2019-20. “That’s probably when the first will come through,” says Chausse.
Leap production began at the Lafayette facility earlier in 2016. “In July, we went a step further and added a repair certificate to the facility, so we are an entry-into-service MRO site for the 1A and 1B on the GE side,” says Eric Matteson, plant leader at Lafayette. MRO operations for early 1A/1B engines are focused on one of three main bays in the facility. One of the other bays is assembling Leap 1A and 1Cs, the latter being the engine for the Chinese-developed , while the third bay is dedicated to Leap 1B production.
Preparations for Leap MRO are being established using early development engines once they have completed their test mission. “We worked specific tasks to focus on certain areas beginning with a 1A. We are just about to start work on the first 1B,” adds Matteson.