Two NASA-industry partnerships could produce tangible benefits for aircraft operators in the near term. The turbofan engine research is being conducted by NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland as part of its aerospace propulsion and power program, the same division that Williams International teamed up with to develop the 700-lb-thrust FJX2 turbofan.
Pratt & Whitney Canada’s helicopter turboshaft engine business has enjoyed
an unprecedented surge in recent years, thanks in part to the company’s development work on turbofan engines for business jets, company executives said.
The efficiency of the gas turbine engines that power today’s commercial and military aircraft is approaching the highest level possible with current turbofans. But a totally new technology being pioneered by GE Aviation and researchers worldwide promises far simpler, more efficient engines that will extend aircraft range, cut fuel costs and reduce emissions.
France-based engine manufacturer Snecma has reported “positive results” for the first 35 ground test hours of its Silvercrest core engine. In an unusual move, the company has begun the test program without announcing a launch application for the new turbofan, which is targeted for applications on future super-midsize to large business jets. The core engine achieved “all the expected performance objectives” for these combustion trials.
When Charles Lindbergh began planning one of the first truly long cross-country solo flights in 1927 everyone understood the risks inherent in a 3,000-mile journey in an airplane powered by a single 223-hp Wright J5 engine. Failure meant he’d probably end up as a shark snack. Luckily, he didn’t have the boss on board.
Confidence in Pratt & Whitney’s geared turbofan (GTF) program is such that company president Steve Finger is talking about a potential widebody application for the engine. “We’re looking at that for late next decade,” he told Aviation International News.
Pratt & Whitney Canada’s (P&WC) progress in developing a powerplant for the proposed Bombardier C Series is contributing to research and development of engines for a future generation of large or heavy business jets.
The pace of new technology infusion in helicopter turbine engines is not slowing.
General Electric, Honeywell, Pratt & Whitney Canada and Rolls-Royce all have significant civil turboshaft development in progress. Turbomeca has no major program under way, apart from the (mostly military) Ardiden. But the French-based firm has precise views about future key technology advancements.
Osceola Mills, Pa.-based Innodyn will be showing off its latest turboprop engine–the TwinPack–later this month at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis. Over the past several years the company has been quietly working on fuel-efficient, low-cost 200- to 300-shp turboprop aircraft powerplants with 5,000-hour TBOs. Building on this work, Innodyn has developed the 500-shp TwinPack, which combines two of its 250-shp turbines through a common gearbox.
For its first major new product since being purchased last year by a team headed by Elling Halvorson, Soloy is developing a more powerful follow-on to its 420-shp Allison turboprop conversion for Cessna 206s.