The 2014 Farnborough International Airshow (July 14-20) was a dynamic and captivating edition of the long-running biennial event–packed with high-octane sales activity, novelty and a touch of controversy. As of press time, the show was on track to surpass all the main metrics for the 2012 event, with more than twice the volume of announced sales; more than 100,000 visitors on the five trade days; and approximately 1,500 exhibitors (of which 26 percent were newcomers and 15 percent had expanded their presence).
Pratt & Whitney on Sunday announced that is has managed to reduce fuel burn on the PW1100G-JM for the A320neo family by another 2 percent. Dubbed the PurePower Engine Advantage, the enhancement centers on improved aerodynamics and cooling.
The Engine Alliance, a 50-50 joint venture of GE and Pratt & Whitney, has received EASA approval for two new thrust ratings for the GP7200 turbofan engine, one of the two engines available to power the Airbus A380. The new ratings bring the GP7200 to four thrust rating configurations.
The Bauhaus Luftfahrt aerospace think-tank in May unveiled a concept for a “propulsive fuselage” aircraft, opening a new possibility for fuel burn reduction. It is part of a European Union-funded project in cooperation with a number of research centers, as well as MTU Aero Engines and Airbus Group Innovations (OE13). The latter company is also studying a hybrid-power regional airliner with Rolls-Royce (Hall 4 Stand H3). Meanwhile, it is flying a hybrid-lift quadcopter demonstrator for unmanned military and civil missions, the Quadcruiser.
Driven by the ambition to become world’s third largest turboshaft engine manufacturer after General Electric and Pratt & Whitney, France’s Turbomeca is pressing to establish a Russian partnership to develop and coproduce a new 3,000-shp engine based on the existing RTM322 powerplant and using the new Tech3000 core.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) reported last month that with 5.5 million flight hours recorded on turbofan engines between 2008 and 2012, only 280 powerplant incidents were recorded, or about one every 20,000 flight hours. Of those 280 occurrences, 98 percent could be classified as low risk; four were classified as medium risk, two as high risk and one as a very high risk. None, however, resulted in any injuries to passengers or crew.
New engines planned by Rolls-Royce (R-R) reflect recent powerplant trends, including steadily increasing propulsive efficiency obtained with larger-diameter fans, higher bypass ratios and smaller engine cores. The engines could power updated contemporary widebody platforms, with R-R civil large engines president Eric Schulz confirming “very live” discussions with Airbus. “If it decides to re-engine the A330 or A380, we will be here to provide support,” he said during a pre-show briefing.
While ATR and Bombardier continue to vacillate over plans to introduce a new 90-seat turboprop, Pratt & Whitney Canada keeps moving forward with a powerplant 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 (probably) an eight-blade propeller.
While calling extending its geared turbofan engine family’s thrust rating by another 2,000 pounds “a big deal,” Pratt & Whitney next-generation product family vice president Bob Saia sees still bigger things in the company’s future, including what he called an Advanced GTF that could rival an open-rotor design in fuel efficiency by the middle of the next decade. For now, though, Saia finds himself “busy as a bee” with the five core programs already under way at the U.S. company.
It is ironic that a Scottish entrepreneur who failed to make a success of two innovative aviation projects has had more success in what many would consider the much riskier world of land-speed record breaking.
A qualified pilot, Richard Noble created ARV Aviation in 1983 to design and build an all-British light aircraft: the Super2, which was powered by a Hewland AE75 three-cylinder two-stroke engine, but only 35 were made before production ceased.
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