After Airbus launched the A320neo program on Dec. 1st, 2010 we are now close to entry into service, with Qatar Airways as the first customer. After several - say - hick-ups in the test program it now looks as the PW1100G powered version is successfully completing the last steps in the certification program. The third aircraft with the GTF engines, an aircraft that will be delivered to Indigo later, joined the test fleet and is doing Function and Reliability testing. There were two hick-ups there two, one in Thessaloniki, were the aircraft was on ground for several days and another in Kiruna, were the aircraft flew back two days later. Apart from that the aircraft was in the air up to 15 hours a day.
Noticeable, the two LEAP-1A powered aircraft are flying less often than in the beginning of the test campaign. The first aircraft (F-WNEW) had very busy weeks at the beginning, but then had to change both engines because of (already known) problems with the rub strips in the compressor. After that it again flew regularly and successfully completed the Hot Weather and Hot & High Campaigns in Al Ain and Bolivia.
The second LEAP-1A powered aircraft did not fly really often since it’s first flight on Sept. 29th. Until today it has been in the air for around 45 hours.
Also, certification of the LEAP-1A is somewhat behind schedule (as the PW1100G was). Originally planned for end of the first half of 2015, CFM said it was only weeks away from certification during the Paris Air Show in June. CFM now said they expect certification “imminently” during the Dubai Air Show last week.
Of course it could be that Airbus decided that the PW1100G version for now has all priority and therefore resources are concentrated on getting certification for the PW1100G powered version. Let’s see if flight activities with the LEAP-powered aircraft will pick up again once the GTF is certified and Qatar received their first aircraft.