(Adds comments on future engine design)
PARIS, June 17 (Reuters) - CFM International said on Saturday it was confident of meeting a target of 500 deliveries of LEAP engines by the end of the year despite a recent quality flaw with a component.
Boeing earlier this year briefly suspended 737 MAX test flights while CFM, co-owned by Safran and General Electric, conducted checks after a problem was found in a turbine disc.
Safran and GE have both recently talked of 450-500 engine deliveries but CFM officials told a briefing ahead of the Paris Airshow that they remained committed to the target of 500 and that their level of confidence had not changed.
They said the engine, developed for Boeing and Airbus medium-haul planes, was proving to have higher utilisation rates than a rival model from Pratt & Whitney.
Each one percent in improved utilisation has the same benefit for airline finances as a five percent fuel saving, they said.
CFM also said it expects to have clearance for 180-minute extended operations by the end of June for the Boeing and Airbus versions of its LEAP engine.
That means planes will be able to fly up to three hours away from the nearest airport at any one time, allowing airlines to serve long over-water routes like Hawaii to the U.S. West Coast.
NON-COMMITTAL ON DESIGN
CFM, like rival engine makers Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce, is meanwhile poring over proposals for a new mid-market jetliner from Boeing, seating around 220-270 people.
Many in the industry expect Boeing to opt for an engine with a gear to increase the efficiency of its fan, which produces most of the thrust, especially on take-off.
Pratt & Whitney has introduced such a design to re-enter the civil market after mainly focusing on the U.S. military in recent years. Its Geared Turbofan is now in use on some Airbus and Bombardier jets.
The head of Pratt & Whitney last month warned Rolls-Royce that the use of a gear in its planned Ultrafan engine project could cause a patent dispute, according to Flightglobal.
CFM officials declined on Saturday to be drawn on whether they would offer a similar design for Boeing’s new jet, but did not rule out using a gear that one described as generic technology.
“We are not ruling out any architecture. We have no religion on the gear,” Executive Vice President Francois Bastin said. (Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Adrian Croft and Stephen Powell)