Virgin America has ordered 30 CFM International designed LEAP engines to power 30 new Airbus A320neo aircraft scheduled to begin delivery in 2016.
CFM International is a joint venture between GE Aviation, a division of General Electric of the United States and Snecma, a division of Safran of France.
In addition, the airline has selected the CFM56-5B engine to power 30 of its current technology A320s on order.
The engine orders have a combined value of $1.4 billion at list price.
In January, the airline announced it would nearly triple its fleet size with an order for 60 new Airbus A320 Family aircraft – including the first commercial order for the new eco-efficient Airbus A320neo.
Together, the A320neo and the LEAP engine promise to deliver one of the world’s most fuel-efficient commercial aircraft, with more than 15 per cent improved fuel efficiency, corresponding improvements in carbon efficiency and double digit reductions in NOx emissions.
Virgin America estimates this will deliver a fuel cost savings to the carrier of $1.9 million per aircraft per year.
“Choosing LEAP gives us the best of all worlds – the most advanced technology, significant fuel savings, consistency with our current fleet and the reliability of CFM,” said Virgin America president David Cush.
“But we are just as committed to finding new ways to make travel more sustainable, even as we grow.
“The A320neo and the LEAP engine together will create one of the world’s most fuel-efficient commercial aircraft.
“Our investment today will ultimately help us take a major leap forward in terms of efficiency.”
Virgin America’s current A320 Family fleet is powered by the CFM56 engine and is up to 25 per cent more fuel efficient than other domestic fleets and one of the most carbon-efficient in the United States on an RPM basis.
The LEAP engine and the A320neo with the new wing tip “Sharklets” will yield even greater efficiencies.
Based on Virgin America’s use and operation of the aircraft, it is estimated that the LEAP advances will offer Virgin America an annual fuel savings of $1.9 million per aircraft at current fuel prices.
With the LEAP engine, the A320neo aircraft will also offer increased performance range and emit 3,600 fewer tons of CO2 per aircraft on an annual basis.