Rolls-Royce is now exploring future engine technologies that, although challenging, are key to the ambitious Advisory Council for Aerospace Research in Europe (ACARE) goals for 2020 in terms of nitrous oxides (NOx) and carbon dioxide (CO2) emission cutting and noise reduction. These technologies range from heat exchangers to shape memory alloys and magnetic bearings.
The dream of solar-powered, long-distance flight is taking shape. Bertrand Piccard, one of the two pilots who became famous with the first round-the-world balloon flight, yesterday introduced a model of a sun-powered, single-pilot airplane that could fly in 2008. The latest design update of the Solar Impulse aircraft, shown here at the Paris Air Show, included noticeable design changes since program launch late in 2003.
Vulcanair’s display of its P68C Jet could confuse visitors until they realize that the installation of 227-hp SMA diesel engines enables the popular twin to use jet fuel. Shortages of avgas are directly affecting demand for aircraft fitted with standard piston engines. Indeed in the Middle East, where avgas is not refined, availability is so limited that sales of the standard P68 in the region are unknown.
Airliners now entering revenue service will be around for the next few decades, over which time forecasters expect the cost of kerosene to rise significantly. Higher oil extraction costs and likely carbon dioxide (CO2) emission limits will no doubt radically alter air transport economics. The industry will simultaneously have to drastically reduce CO2 emissions from aircraft engines and find alternative fuels for them.
Never before has commercial air transport come under such scrutiny for its environmental impact. While aircraft have made far more progress in terms of reducing fuel consumption and emissions per passenger carried in recent years, the relentless overall growth of air traffic has led to increasing pressure from the environmental lobby to reduce the noise and emissions produced by modern powerplants.
Pratt & Whitney’s efforts to ensure it takes pole position in the next generation of medium-sized powerplants are materializing, with several major technology programs under way aimed at ensuring its geared turbofan (GTF) demonstrator beats the competition.
Meggitt (Stand A536) is introducing a number of products, including new developments in engine monitoring equipment revealed by its Vibro-Meter subsidiary. Fitted on the Boeing 737, for example, the new vibration monitors continuously check specific engine bearings and detect unusual signatures using advanced signal processing.
Snecma’s announcement in January that it is to develop the new SM-X turbofan for small regional airliners and mid-sized/large business jets took many by surprise, given the existence of several well-established players in the field and the enormous cost involved in designing and manufacturing an all-new powerplant.
CFM International is including a contrarotating ducted fan engine in studies of concepts that might provide the quantum leap in fuel efficiency, noise reduction and emissions being demanded for the next generation of single-aisle aircraft.
Controversy continues to swirl around the FAA’s September 2005 aircraft thermal and acoustic insulation regulations, which went into effect in January. The agency amended the original regulations after discovering that the wording implicated a much broader range of components than intended.