The FAA and EASA have jointly awarded 180-minute extended-range, twin-engine operations (ETOPS) approval for CFM International’s LEAP-1A and 1-B engines powering the Airbus A320neo and the Boeing 737 MAX respectively.
ETOPS is defined as the number of minutes flying time a twin-engine aircraft can operate from an airport in the event that one of the engines becomes inoperable.
Following ETOPS approval, aircraft manufacturers and airlines interested in operating ETOPS routes to obtain their own certification for the engines.
“The testing required for this approval is in some of the most grueling conditions to which an engine would ever be subjected,” said Francois Bastin, executive vice president of CFM, the 50/50 joint venture between GE Aviation and Safran Aircraft Engines. “To start, the engine is deliberately unbalanced to a level that no airline would ever be allowed to operate for even one hour.”
Bastin, who revealed the engine was ran for 3,000 consecutive flight cycles, added: “Once the testing is complete, the engine is entirely disassembled to the piece-part level and laid out on tables for the regulatory agencies to inspect. The state of the parts upon inspection was incredible; they looked practically new.”
The first LEAP-1A-powered A320neo aircraft entered service in August 2016 with the commercial debut of the LEAP-1B fitted 737 MAX following in May 2017.