Gulf Air’s choice of the CFM Leap-1A engine over the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G for 17 A321neo and 12 A320neo aircraft it has on order is no great surprise given that the carrier already uses CFM56 equipment.
The deal is valued at $1.9 billion at list prices and includes a 10-year maintenance agreement, under which CFM guarantees maintenance costs for all of Gulf Air’s Leap-1A engines on a dollar-per-engine-flight-hour basis.
By signing the aftermarket contract, Gulf Air joins the roughly 50% of LEAP customers who have opted for an OEM support package--a significantly higher proportion than on the CFM56.
Leap engines are not expected to start requiring shop visits in large numbers until 2019 at the earliest, but the sheer volume of engines that will come in, plus the amount of new materials and technologies used in their manufacture, make early preparations essential.
To date, CFM has certified three of its own MRO sites for the Leap engine--one in the U.S., one in Belgium and one in France--and it expects to certify a fourth facility, in Southeast Asia, next year.
Whereas previously the two CFM partners--GE and Safran--would compete for engine maintenance, now their aftermarket business works in tandem.
On the Safran side, the joint venture’s site in Brussels is the initial focal point of maintenance efforts for the -1A variant.
Another shop in Saint Quentin, to the south of Paris, has been certified for the -1B. Meanwhile, a site in Malaysia currently has quick-turn capability for Leap engines and will be certified to provide full overhauls from 2018, the company hopes.
“Further down the line we will continue to expand the network as capacity increases,” says Alan Kelly, general manager, CFM Services, at GE Aviation.
To find out more about CFM’s maintenance strategy for the Leap, and how it differs from Pratt & Whitney’s plans, pick up the forthcoming Engine Yearbook 2018.