New CFM56 Turbine Blades to Improve Reliability for Thousands of Commercial and Military Aircraft Engines

The new HPT blade will help prolong the life of the CFM56 engine, which is featured in thousands of in-service commercial and military aircraft globally. (Image: GE Aerospace)

CFM International has introduced a new design for High-Pressure Turbine (HPT) blades featured on the CFM56 engine, one of the most widely used engines on thousands of in-service commercial and military aircraft, including the Airbus A320 and the Next Generation Boeing 737. Leveraging millions of hours of field data, the updated design includes "increased wall thickness, optimized dovetail loading, and tightened manufacturing tolerances," according to an Oct. 17 press release.

The new HPT blade is being rolled out by CFM for CFM56-5B/-7B engines and maintains the fuel burn benefit achieved with the CFM56 Tech Insertion blade configurations launched by the GE Aerospace-Safran Aircraft Engines joint venture in 2007.

"These upgraded CFM56-5B/-7B HPT blades are designed to keep our customers flying with OEM parts they know and trust,” said Jacey Welsh, CFM executive vice president – CFM56 at GE Aerospace. “Many of our customers are transitioning their narrowbody fleets and the new CFM56 HPT blade can help them to extend time on-wing to optimize cost of ownership and enhance the residual value of their engines. We are also providing attractive upgrade options to customers operating older CFM56 configurations.”

According to a blog post  published by GE Aerospace, the CFM56 engine has been delivered to an estimated 600 commercial and military operators globally, with 24,000 currently in service. Nearly half of the 24,000 CFM56s in-service have yet to require their first visit to a maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) facility, according to CFM.

Mounted in the core of the engine, high-pressure turbine blades spin at thousands of RPM in temperatures hot enough to melt wrought iron, turning the shaft that powers the fan at the front, GE notes. As one of the most complex parts in the CFM56, the blade is in high demand.

“This blade is one of the most technically challenging parts of the engine to manufacture,” says Tom Levin, VP of CFM commercial programs for GE Aerospace.

A Greenville, North Carolina manufacturing plant where CFM56 parts are produced makes 2,000 blades a week, according to GE Aerospace. On average, the site ships 1,000 parts per day, 5,000 part per week and 250,000 parts per year.

“With more than 1.2 billion engine flight hours logged, the CFM56 engine delivers for our customers 24/7, 365 days a year,” said Jérôme Morhet, CFM executive vice president at Safran Aircraft Engines. “We continue to invest in both product and support upgrades for this fleet. With the introduction of the new HPT blade, we are focused on building inventory to support our customers’ future shop visits.”