Airbus has rolled out the first CFM Leap-1A powered A320neo at its Toulouse facility in France, and is expected to begin ground tests this week in advance of flight tests which are targeted to begin before the Paris Air Show in June 2015.

The aircraft is the third A320neo in the test fleet, and joins the first pair of test aircraft which are powered by the competing Pratt & Whitney PW1100G geared turbofan. In all, eight A320neo-family aircraft will be involved in the certification effort, which will include one additional Leap-1A-powered A320. The remainder will be made up of two A319neos and two A321neos, with one of each powered by the new engines.

The bulk of the flight-test program, estimated by Airbus to account for approximately 2,800 flight hr., will be flown by the four A320neos. The first PW1100G-powered aircraft, MSN6101, has been flying since September, and was joined by the second at the end of March. The Pratt-powered A320neo is expected to be certificated by the end of the year, with the Leap-powered variant following by mid-2016.

Airbus has been using the initial PW1100G-powered A320neo for high-altitude performance tests and operations in extreme conditions, and says the second aircraft is configured with a lighter flight-test instrumentation suite for noise, functionality, reliability testing and ETOPS approval.

CFM, a joint venture between General Electric and Snecma, began test runs of the first Leap-1A at GE’s Peebles, Ohio test facility on Sept. 4, 2013. Assembly of the first NEO flight-test engines began last summer at GE’s site in Durham, North Carolina, while flight tests of the initial Leap engine, the mechanically identical -1C variant, began in Victorville, California, on Oct. 6, 2014. The Leap-1 is exclusive to the Comac C919 and Boeing 737 MAX and competes with Pratt & Whitney’s PW1100G on the A320neo.

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