Safran To Lead Open Fan Studies for EU’s OFELIA Project

 - April 28, 2023, 1:24 PM
The CFM partnership’s RISE technology demonstrator incorporates an open fan architecture a European team led by Safran aims to demonstrate on an Airbus A380. (Image: Airbus)

Safran Aircraft Engines will coordinate the demonstration of new open fan engine technologies within the framework of the EU-led Clean Aviation Joint Undertaking project Open Fan for Environmental Low Impact of Aviation (OFELIA) the French engine maker confirmed Friday. Safran will work with 26 industry European key partners, including Airbus, Avio Aero, and GKN Aerospace, as well as research labs such as the French national aerospace research center ONERA and academics from several countries across Europe. The OFELIA consortium expects to receive €100 million in European funding from Clean Aviation.

OFELIA’s plans to demonstrate the efficiency benefits of an open fan architecture to address the needs of future short- and medium-range aircraft by about 2035. The program partners aim for a 20 percent reduction of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared with conventional narrowbodies. Under Clean Aviation’s OFELIA initiative, Safran Aircraft Engines and its partners expect to develop a set of technologies to TRL 5 for low-pressure systems, high-pressure core, and advanced systems including hybridization for ground and flight test demonstrations with an Airbus A380 powered by an open fan by the middle of this decade. The consortium also aims to ensure full compatibility of the architecture with sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and hydrogen.

“As a world-leading military and commercial engine manufacturer, our responsibility is to develop key technologies that will lead to a more sustainable aviation,” said Michel Brioude, Safran Aircraft Engine’s executive v-p for engineering and R&T. “The open fan architecture is the major innovation of our CFM RISE technology demonstration program with GE Aerospace and stands as a key driver to improve next-generation engine’s efficiency.”

The OFELIA roadmap will encompass more than 20 tests at the partners’ facilities. Safran Aircraft Engines, Avio Aero, and GKN Aerospace will work together to design and manufacture components for the open fan engine demonstrator. Specific topics of the technology maturation plan for the open fan include whirl flutter, unducted fan, propeller and vanes, high-speed booster, high-speed low-pressure turbine aerodynamics, high-power compact reduction gearbox, lightweight engine components, combustor emissions, high-pressure compressor aerodynamics, and engine hybridization. Airbus will prepare the preliminary dossier for the flying test demonstrator in preparation for the second phase of Clean Aviation, which concentrates on flight tests.

“The OFELIA project is part of Clean Aviation’s 20 daring projects that are researching innovative solutions to power the next generation of sustainable aircraft,” said Clean Aviation executive director Axel Krein. “Together with the European Union, European aviation has the power to lead the way towards a climate-neutral aviation system and set new global standards for safe, reliable, affordable, and clean air transport.”