AEC is currently working with Snecma (Safran group) to develop fan module components for the next generation LEAP aircraft engine. The LEAP engine is a product of CFM International (CFM), which is the world’s leading supplier of commercial aircraft engines and a 50/50 joint venture between Snecma and GE. One of AEC’s efforts under this program includes the production of a composite fan case – a component whose overall design and fit into the LEAP engine was conceived by Snecma. The fan case can be a source for significant weight reduction and related fuel savings for an engine when produced in a composite material.
AEC has a long history using single-layer 2D woven Aramid (Kevlar) contour woven fabrics for fan case containment fabric. The LEAP composite fan case is unique in that it combines our 3D and contour weaving capacities to produce near-final net shape preforms, which are then molded to shape using RTM. Utilization of contour weaving allows the entire fan case preform, including flanges, to be formed as a single preform without the need for cutting and darting, while the continuously woven nature of the part eliminates fiber buckling after molding. Compared to the metallic alternative, the composite fan case provides a significant reduction in weight. It also offers improvements to durability that support Snecma’s desire to reduce engine maintenance costs.
AEC is also working with Snecma on the fan blades as well as the spacers and platforms adjacent to the blades for the LEAP engine.