The technology stakes are high for the GE9X engine that will power Boeing’s new 777X twinjet, but GE Aviation believes its big bet on the weight savings to be delivered by unprecedented use of composites is about to pay off. The U.S. engine maker, which currently holds orders for some 600 of the engines, is leaving nothing to chance and, with more than two years of technology maturation behind it, the company is now stepping up its test program en route to certification in 2018.
Air Transport and Cargo » Air Transport and Cargo Engines
News and issues relating to air transport and cargo engines.
Prospects for the much-anticipated launch of the Airbus A330neo appeared to be strengthening on the eve of the 2014 Farnborough International Airshow. While the European airframer was officially remaining tight-lipped on plans for the re-engined model, this has done little to dispel Reuters and Bloomberg reports of a launch announcement this week, citing sources close to the program. In particular, Hawaiian Airlines confirmed that it is actively considering the A330neo as a possible alternative to the A350-800.
Engine manufacturer CFM International announced yesterday here at Farnborough International 2014 that American Airlines has selected its Leap-1A turbofan engine to power 100 Airbus A320neos. At list price, CFM values the engine order at $2.6 billion. The aircraft order was originally announced in July 2011 and American will begin taking delivery of the aircraft in 2017.
Rolls-Royce last month opened its new advanced engine disc manufacturing facility at Washington in the northeast of England. When it is fully operational in 2016, the 194,000-sq-ft (18,000 sq m) factory will have the capacity to make 2,500 fan and turbine discs each year for various Trent engines, including the new Trent XWB that powers the Airbus A350XWB.
Rolls-Royce is confident that other customers will take up the 70 Airbus A350-900XWB and -1000XWB production positions released when Emirates Airline canceled its order on June 1, and says demand remains strong for the new twin-aisle twinjet, which is powered exclusively by R-R Trent XWB engines. The loss reduced the manufacturer’s orderbook by £2.6 billion (excluding the value of “TotalCare” support contracts), or about 3.5 percent.
As preparations continue for running a full open-rotor engine demonstrator in 2016 under Europe’s Clean Sky research effort, French engine maker Snecma (Hall 4 Stand B12) sees the program’s participants reaching a consensus as whether or not to proceed in the 2017-to-2019 time frame. Clean Sky, which also involves Airbus, Rolls-Royce and French research center Onera, has provided a relatively unexpected discussion platform, thus facilitating a general agreement.
By the end of the year, CFM (OE 22) plans to have put together and tested around 20 Leap-1A/B/C turbofans, in preparation for their first flights next year and in 2016 on their respective application airframes. The Franco-American engine manufacturer is also gearing up for a swift production ramp-up, planned to reach an annual 1,700 engines by the end of the decade. The Leap will power the Airbus A320neo (Leap-1A), the Boeing 737 Max (Leap-1B) and Comac C919 (Leap-1C) narrowbodies.
CFM International has begun ground testing of the first Leap-1B engine developed to power Boeing’s new 737 Max family of narrowbody airliners. The joint venture between Snecma and GE announced today that ground tests began three days ahead of schedule on June 13 and that the 23,000- to 28,000-pound-thrust turbofan already has achieved full takeoff thrust.
While ATR and Bombardier continue to vacillate over plans to introduce a new 90-seat turboprop, Pratt & Whitney Canada keeps moving forward with an engine it believes will deliver a 20-percent fuel burn improvement over existing engines in the 5,000- to 7,000-shp range by the turn of the decade. Dubbed the Next Generation Regional Turboprop (NGRT), the engine would feature an all-new compressor, a miniaturized version of Pratt & Whitney’s patented Talon combustor and likely an eight-blade propeller
Pratt & Whitney’s launch on Tuesday of a 35,000-pound-thrust version of its Geared Turbofan extends the family’s power range by another 2,000 pounds, giving Airbus A321neo customers enough range and payload capability to effectively operate from such hot and high locations as Mexico City and Bogota. Dubbed the PW1135G-JM, the engine gets its extra thrust from leftover development margin extracted from the design of the family as a whole, thereby requiring no hardware or design changes, explained Pratt & Whitney vice president of engineering Tom Prete.