LEAP transmissions in Pomigliano

The inlet gearboxes of CFM International's LEAP engine also join the aero engine components capacity at the Pomigliano Service Center, as the first non-design component being serviced.

May 2022

Pomigliano d’Arco, the second largest Avio Aero site in Italy with a workforce of more than 1,100 employees, houses a Component Repair and Overhaul (CRO) center, along with a large engine test cell as well as the Combustors and Airfoils production centers. Starting in May, a new component joins its catalogue of serviced modules and parts for large civil (such as GE90, GE9X, GEnx, Trent900, SaM146, V2500) and military (TP400) engines.

The first Inlet Gearboxes (IGBs) of the LEAP engine produced by CFM International (a 50-50 joint company between GE Aviation and Safran Aircraft Engines) have in fact arrived at the Avio Aero's site, at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. While boasting high efficiency thanks to the latest materials and additive technology – that allow a reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 15 percent - the LEAP is designed to ensure maximum reliability in service and, like any other modern machines, also requires typical ordinary maintenance and assistance.

Pomigliano will thus provide overhaul and maintenance services for the entire IGB transmission for all versions of this engine, which equips the world's most popular passenger-carrying aircraft, such as the Airbus A320neo family and Boeing 737 MAX. LEAP is the successor to the “best-selling” CFM56 engine.  Since entering service in 2016, the LEAP engine powers more than 1,400 aircraft from airlines on five continents and, in fact, the fleet currently in service has already accumulated more than 10 million hours in the air.  

LEAP engines in the assembly lines, ph. Nicholas Lancianese for GE Aviation ©2022.

While boasting high efficiency thanks to the latest materials and additive technology, allowing a reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 15%, the LEAP is designed to ensure maximum reliability in service

“We are very pleased to add this phenomenal engine to our catalogue,” says Gianluca Squillace, NPI Program Manager at Avio Aero. "The recovery of air travel is finally giving us new opportunities, which we are seizing together with GE’s open Services network, in this case. IGB is a crucial component, made up of a set of technically complex sub-parts, gears with advanced materials and very tight tolerance levels... some parts of the LEAP-1A transmission are also produced in our specialized plant in Rivalta.”

The Service experts in Pomigliano expect increasing volumes coming in by the end of the year and in the following years, and are already at work on the first parts received in the workshop: the IGB is a crucial component because through a shaft it connects the transfer and accessory drive transmissions to the main engine shaft. It operates in the engine’s ignition phase to transmit the energy generated by the starter - connected with the Accessory Control Transmission (AGB) – to the engine main shaft allowing its ignition. While in-flight, it supplies energy to the various engine accessories, as well as to the aircraft cabin.

“The IGBs we receive will have spent so many hours in the air. We will put in dedication precisely because their intensity of use requires careful maintenance,” adds Sabatino Covone, Operations Leader of the Pomigliano CRO area. The center is also now a reference point for the maintenance of transmissions, power as well as accessory drive, precisely because of Avio Aero's leadership when it comes to these products.

Furthermore, it is thanks to this that other LEAP engine transmissions will also be able to flow into Pomigliano, as confirmed by Edoardo Curti, Commercial Service Business Leader. “Our plan is to acquire the capability also for the LEAP accessories and transfer gearboxes (like we do with the GE9X), thus becoming the GE Aviation Center of Excellence for the maintenance of all transmissions. But our vision does not stop there”.

The CRO team in the Avio Aero Pomigliano's area dedicated to gearboxes service.

“We are working to develop maintenance capabilities on low pressure turbine components – like for transmissions, this is still the case in line with our historical, distinctive design and production capacity on these modules. Returning to the IGB of the LEAP, I would like to underline that this is the very first non-design component Avio Aero that we serve in Pomigliano”.

Such vision hints at a horizon of opportunity to continue to support the recovery of aviation, with service excellence for the engines that connect millions of people and places around the world every day.

“Airlines rely on engine module specialists when overhauling their fleets, and we are ‘traditionally’ innovative because we have always developed practices, repair technologies and maintenance specific to turbine rotor and stator parts. In addition, we are pioneers when it comes to additive manufacturing for 3D printed TiAl blades. The center of excellence for the transmission service may naturally be followed by the one for turbines”, concludes Curti.