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LEAP Negotiates Teething Problems

The engine manufacturer predicts around 450 LEAPs will be produced in 2017.

With all the attention paid to Pratt & Whitney’s problems with the geared turbofan this year, some have overlooked the early hiccups of its rival, the CFM LEAP.

Safran, one half of the CFM joint venture, now predicts that actions related to the transition from the CFM56 to LEAP, and potentially to LEAP reliability issues, will result in an additional headwind of €50 million above previous estimates.

“We have observed a premature loss of coating on the high-pressure turbine shroud which is made by our partner in CFM [GE] on some engines,” said Safran CEO Philippe Petitcolin in a recent earnings call.

This week Airbus revealed that it was directing CFM to provide more spare LEAP engines to cover engines that needed to be taken off wing.

Following a problem with LEAP-1B low-pressure turbine (LPT) discs that has nearly been resolved, CFM is now dealing with a premature loss of the thermal coating on high-pressure turbine discs on the LEAP-1A and LEAP-1B.

However, Petitcolin, says that “most of this issue is really now behind us”, and that coating problems should be fully resolved by 2018. He also stresses that the additional headwind is a conservative estimate, and that the extra technical support may not be needed.

One question for next year is the production split between CFM56 and LEAP engines, given ongoing strong sales of the former powerplant.

“It means that [we] are going to produce CFM engines longer than expected and [at a] higher rate than expected at the beginning when we did this transfer and swing from CFM to LEAP,” says Petitcolin.

Earlier this year CFM had predicted a roughly even split between the engines for 2018 production, but that may not now be the case.

The OEM says it should produce slightly more than 450 LEAPs this year.

“Today we feel more than 450 engines during the year. We are still in line and I don’t see, as of today, why we would not do that,” says Petitcolin.

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