A prevailing gloomy economic outlook notwithstanding, Turbomeca projected an air of optimism at a Saturday afternoon press briefing when Pierre Fabre, the company’s chairman and CEO, declared that the French turboshaft engine manufacturer has “long-term confidence in the helicopter market.” He said Turbomeca’s immediate goal is to stabilize activity at the same high level achieved in 2008 when it built 1,313 engines and recorded “the best overall improvement in customer satisfaction” of any engine OEM. Russ Spray, president and CEO of Turbomeca USA, noted that military work promises to pick up some of the slack caused by a reduction in civil market activity.
Still, Fabre continued, given an uncertain short term future “Turbomeca is prepared for this phase of instability and is preparing for the long-term future by investing 11 percent of sales in research and development.” A considerable portion of that investment will be devoted to “green” technology based on a multifaceted environmental strategy. Development criteria include reduction of fuel consumption with attendant reduced greenhouse gas emissions, pollution and noise, along with selection of more eco-friendly materials, manufacturing and maintenance processes.
The turboshaft engine component of the Safran group has signed onto emissions and noise reduction goals set by the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE) to be achieved by 2020. ACARE’s 2020 Vision sets precise targets for greenhouse gas emission, pollution and noise levels.
From the Artouste 2C engine that powered the Alouette II in 1978 to today’s Arrius 2F on the EC120, Turbomeca has achieved a 60-percent reduction in specific fuel consumption through 30 percent less fuel burned per hour and a 30-percent power output gain. Nevertheless, Turbomeca foresees the necessity of breakthroughs in new technology to achieve meaningful future improvements in emission levels and noise. It notes that optimizing current technology is likely, by 2015, to reduce CO2 and NOX by no more than 15 percent, and noise by only five decibels. The company believes that new propulsion concepts it currently has under development could generate another 20-percent decrease in fuel consumption (consistent with the ACARE Year 2020 goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 50 percent) and a 30-percent decrease by 2030. NOX emissions could be reduced by up to 60 percent, also in keeping with the overall ACARE target of 80 percent.
Charles Claveau, Turbomeca’s v-p of product marketing strategy, said a new noise attenuator on display at Heli-Expo’09 Booth No. 2335 promises major progress toward the 2020 Vision target of 50-percent external noise reduction. Fabre said he believes that noise reduction and engine performance goals are not incompatible, explaining that more efficient engines can be expected to be inherently quieter.