Nexcelle provides first nacelle for LEAP-1C engine

France-based Nexcelle has delivered the first composite O-Duct nacelle to equip CFM International's LEAP-1C engines for the China-made COMAC C919 jetliner.

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Nexcelle (Le Havre, France), the joint venture of Aircelle (Safran) and GE Aviation’s Middle River Aircraft Systems for a new generation of engine nacelles on integrated propulsion systems – reported on Feb. 6 that it has delivered its first O-Duct nacelle to equip CFM International’s LEAP-1C engines for the COMAC C919 jetliner.

Developed and manufactured by Aircelle, the O-Duct marks a milestone in Nexcelle’s production hardware deliveries, and is to be used – together with other nacelle components – for engine flight test. Nexcelle has also delivered the first LEAP-1C air inlet from Middle River. The hardware has been installed on a LEAP development engine currently undergoing tests.

The one-piece composite O-Duct delivered by Nexcelle is described as a technology breakthrough in nacelle design for integrated propulsion systems, replacing a traditional thrust reverser’s two-piece “D” doors. When deployed, the O-Duct moves aftward to the reverse thrust position, eliminating drag links in the engine’s secondary flow-path, enhancing the airflow path and improving fuel consumption, while also increasing thrust reverser efficiency.

“Innovation is an important element in Nexcelle’s development of new engine nacelles, and the O-Duct is an example of how our approach to more integrated propulsion systems will benefit aircraft manufacturers and airline operators,” says Nexcelle president Michel Abella.

A key feature of the O-Duct is its single-piece, 330° carbon fiber composite inner skin, which is produced at Aircelle’s Le Havre manufacturing facility using what is said to be an innovative molding process employed for the first time on this program. The milestone no. 1 O-Duct is now at GE Aviation’s Peebles, Ohio, facility, for build-up with other nacelle components prior to installation on the CFM flight test aircraft.

Aircelle and Middle River Aircraft Systems will be building the equivalent of 18 initial nacelle shipsets, to be used as complete nacelles for flight testing, and as separate components in such applications as ground-based icing and crosswind testing.