It seems unlikely that new engine architectures such as the geared turbofan or the open rotor will make it to business aviation in the near or even mid term. According to engine manufacturers, these concepts are not suited to the needs of business aircraft, which require a lot of thrust during almost the entire flight.
Turbofan engine makers active in business aviation– such as General Electric, Honeywell, Pratt & Whitney Canada, Rolls-Royce and Snecma– all have their hands full with research-and-development (R&D) programs, many of which are driven by aircraft programs. However, almost all of the engine companies also run demonstration programs that will not necessarily morph into full engine development.
UK-based Rolls-Royce and GKN Aerospace have established a joint venture to study the use of composite materials in fan blades. The engine manufacturer and the aerostructure specialist are investing, on a 51-49 basis, £11 million ($22 million) in
a research and development program. For Rolls-Royce, this could signal a major shift from a well established design choice.
One of the biggest problems for those designing the next generation of unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs) is how to define, choose and incorporate a powerplant. Rolls-Royce believes it has the answer in a new type of engine system that has a much hotter core and provides not only power to the airframe, but also manages the entire power requirement of the UCAV. However, it doesn’t have the money for the program–at least, not yet.
Price Induction, a startup company based in Anglet, France, is studying a 560-lb-thrust high-bypass-ratio turbofan that would establish a new thrust class. Applications of the DGEN380 would be four-seaters, allowing pilots to upgrade from piston singles to twinjets. Another market could be airline-pilot training.
What presented the impetus for the PW810’s development?
When we started to talk about the PW800 family [in the late 1990s], we were talking about an engine for the next generation of regional aircraft.
The debate about the design of future commercial aircraft engines broadened this year as concerns mounted over the effect aircraft engines may be having on global warming, while the cost of aviation fuel rocketed and noise became ever more of an issue.
Pratt & Whitney Canada and the French-Russian Snecma-NPO Saturn joint venture are knocking at the door of the market for regional-jet turbofan engines. The geared-fan PW800 and the more conventional SM146 are not yet fully launched programs, but development is well under way.
Engine manufacturers are showing renewed interest in the 10,000-pound-thrust segment. They see the aging of the General Electric (GE) CF34-3B, the only engine in production in the class, and at least two companies–Snecma and Pratt & Whitney Canada–are eyeing future large business jets, the size of the Bombardier Challenger 600 series, as potential applications. Meanwhile, GE is modernizing the CF34-1 for the Challenger 601.
Orders for as many as 250 new General Electric (GE) GEnx engines are expected here at the Paris Air Show this week as the Boeing 787 program gathers pace after last year’s hesitant start. Announcements will come as Boeing prepares for the launch of the stretched 747 Advanced (for which it predicts a market for up to 300), and Airbus launches its A350 variant of the A330–both programs representing applications of the new engine.