EBACE Convention News

Manufacturers eye market for larger engines

 - May 9, 2007, 9:16 AM

A titanic battle appears to be shaping up in the 10,000-pound thrust segment of the aero engine market, where there is a need for powerplants to drive the coming super-midsize and large business jets, as well as smaller regional airliners.

At last October’s NBAA convention, four manufacturers joined the segment, in which Snecma is already developing its 10,500-pound Silvercrest turbofan (see story on page 22). The French company is aiming at a mid-2008 launch date for its new engine and plans to enter testing in the fourth quarter of this year.

Thus far, Pratt & Whitney Canada and Honeywell are the only manufacturers to have emerged as firm contenders: P&WC with a brand-new engine, and Honeywell with a second-generation derivative of its HTF7000 turbofan, the HTF10000. Rolls-Royce is pushing forward with its RB282 two-shaft small-engines technology demonstrator program, but has remained coy about a launch date for the resulting 10,000-pound powerplant. General Electric is even more circumspect about an all-new successor to its top-selling CF34, reportedly called the GE38.

Walter Di Bartolomeo, vice president of engineering at P&WC, told EBACE Convention News that the company is “very excited” about the new 10,000-pound thrust requirement “as it fits perfectly into our global strategy of leveraging our technology to fit new applications.” He added that P&WC has been aiming its technology development effort at the 10,000-pound segment since 1999. “We’ve been looking at the core and at the overall system to find a product that provides a real stepping stone.”

The challenge, added Di Bartolomeo, has been how to improve the performance of such an engine meaningfully. “We want to make the best engine out there in terms of fuel burn, emissions, noise and customer satisfaction,” he said. The company has not set a launch date, but he indicated the new engine would be “ready to go” four or five years later. “We see a genuine need for between 200 and 300 aircraft a year in the super midsize-large business jet market,” he said, adding, “We have the ability to launch an engine today.”

One of the first applications for the P&WC engine is likely to be the Dassault super midsize project, which is believed to be aimed at service entry in 2013. The French airframer is working toward a decision on an engine supplier, and reportedly has narrowed its selection to two engines.

Di Bartolomeo said only that P&WC is “talking to original equipment manufacturers in the business jet market,” but he added that the engine is also sized right for regional airliner applications. “This is a technology and class of engine that is not fundamentally limited to business jet applications,” he said.

Rolls-Royce said it is looking at a range of engines in the 6,000- to 30,000-pound thrust class through its internal RB282 technology development program. According to the company, the studies are aimed at “the next generation of corporate jets, regional airliners and single-aisle aircraft from a wide range of aircraft manufacturers.” It would say only that the resulting engine “is likely to enter service in 2012 and beyond.”

The UK-based engine maker is assembling key technologies from its Vision 10 technology acquisition program, which has been running for about seven years. “Recently,” said a spokesman, “we have run a number of compressor and fan rigs and most recently, we’ve had a single-stage high-pressure turbine rig in Germany working on low emissions and lean-burn combustors.” The work will lead to tests of the full core “in the near future,” he said. As to a possible launch of a new engine, however, the company remains silent.

Honeywell unveiled its HTF10000 turbofan at the NBAA convention in October and is expected to reveal more about the engine here at EBACE’07.

Described somewhat bullishly by the company as “the future of jet propulsion,” the HTF10000 is in fact a derivative of the existing 7,000-pound-thrust HTF7000 turbofan now flying aboard the Bombardier Challenger 300 business jet.

The engine maker claims the HTF10000 is new, even though its architecture is based on that of the smaller engine. The core will benefit from Pentagon-funded technologies “to extend temperature and pressure levels” and the design will employ a 10- to 15-percent larger, forward swept fan based on work carried out in NASA’s Quiet High Speed Fan research program. According to Honeywell, the fan will enable the HTF10000 to meet noise levels equivalent to Stage 3 minus 30 EPndb, while engine emissions will meet ICAO Class 5 standards.

Honeywell claims a “breakthrough” in cost of owner-ship for the HTF10000, which will incorporate line-replaceable units that can be serviced in 20 minutes or less “with tools common to every toolbox.”

At the NBAA convention, Honeywell director of advanced technology Bob Smith said the HTF10000 would be launched “when we’re ready.” He added that, “We’re very serious about this sector, which we see as one of the highest growth engine markets in the business.”