GE Aviation received an award from the FAA as part of the Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (Cleen) program–a joint government-industry initiative to accelerate the development and maturation of aircraft and engine technologies that cut noise, emissions and fuel burn. Under the program, GE and the FAA will share an investment of up to $66 million over a five-year period. The project’s timeline extends to 2015, by which time GE and the FAA expect to see the technologies enter the commercial fleet.
GE plans to use the Cleen award to help fund development of its TAPS II combustor, open rotor and flight management system-air traffic management (FMS-ATM) technologies. For the TAPS II combustor, GE expects the funding will help advance dynamic modeling and size scaling. For the open-rotor program, it plans to use the award to support blade aero-acoustic and pitch-change mechanism research. Finally, GE expects the program will improve FMS trajectory algorithms for fuel, emissions and noise performance.
“This is a great initiative with very tangible benefits for so many stakeholders: responsible growth of an essential industry, better asset utilization, lower fuel burn and cost for airlines, fewer delays for passengers, and lower emissions and noise for communities,” said Lorraine Bolsinger, president and CEO of GE Aviation Systems. “We are committed to bringing our customers savings now with proven products. GE’s FMS-optimized descent is an “ecomagination” product that enables increased aircraft capacity along with a potential 5 to 15 percent fuel savings for our customers. Through work with our partners, we will be able to realize even greater savings.”
GE works on the five-year project with industry partners Lockheed Martin, AirDat and Alaska Airlines. Under the terms of the partnership agreement, GE will develop and install advanced FMS functionality on an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 to demonstrate the environmental benefits. The work with Lockheed Martin–the prime contractor for the En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) air traffic management system–will demonstrate integration between the airborne FMS and the ground-based air traffic system.
The award will fund flight demonstrations of technology to enable an airplane’s FMS to digitally exchange critical flight information with the ERAM, while the exchange of four-dimensional, trajectory-based flight information will allow aircraft to fly more direct approaches while maintaining a safe separation from other airplanes.
Plans call for flight demonstrations this year to set a baseline to measure fuel use, emissions and noise produced by commercial aircraft using current FMS-ATM technologies. Future test flights will test and measure the improvements made by the advanced technology features.
Meanwhile, GE and AirDat plan to develop and demonstrate advanced technology to mitigate the effects of weather on aircraft fuel consumption and emissions. By installing its Tamdar sensors on commercial aircraft, AirDat can gather, analyze and transmit highly accurate, real-time weather data, including wind speeds and trajectory. The data will allow demo flight teams to choose to the most fuel efficient flight paths.
The GE Global Research Center, located in Niskayuna, N.Y., will contribute advanced FMS-ATM trajectory synchronization- and negotiation-enabling technology developed under collaborative air traffic management research programs with Lockheed Martin.