Through a highly collaborative relationship AEC and Snecma (Safran group) have developed 3D composite fan module components for the next-generation LEAPTM aircraft engine. The LEAP engine is a product of CFM International (CFMTM), which is the world’s leading supplier of commercial aircraft engines and a 50/50 joint venture between Snecma and GE. Composite fan blades are a key feature of this engine and an enabling technology with respect to fuel efficiency, cost efficiency, and innovation.
Snecma was responsible for the development of the overall fan blade design and from a manufacturing standpoint is responsible for finishing, final control, and ultimate integration into the fan module. AEC has been instrumental in designing the 3D composites fiber architecture for the blades and is responsible for their manufacture.
The 3D composite architecture provides a structure that is highly damage tolerant and able to withstand significant in-plane and through thickness loads, enabling the composite blade to withstand birdstrike. Additionally the automated processes used in 3D composite manufacture are more reliable and cost effective than a conventional laminated blade fabrication process would be, as less manual labor is required to fabricate the blade. In addition to the fan blades, AEC is also responsible for manufacturing the engine's 3D composite fan case.
The manufacture of these parts takes place in two Safran manufacturing facilities in which AEC is also collocated. The facilities are located in Rochester, New Hampshire (USA) and Commercy, France, and both are dedicated to the production of 3D composite LEAP engine components.