While GE Aviation (Booth C10030) remains close-lipped about other potential business jet applications for its new Passport engine, it is pursuing a wholly new market for its turbofan that powers Bombardier’s Global 7500. Passport and the CF34-10 are the two engines GE will pitch for the U.S. Air Force’s request for proposal to re-engine its fleet of 76 B-52H Stratofortress bombers, Laurence Vigeant-Langlois, manager of GE’s Passport program, told AIN.
“We’re actively proposing a path forward there, two options from GE, and then we continue a dialogue and proposals related to business aviation, as well as military aviation and unmanned vehicle opportunities,” Vigeant-Langlois said. GE has a history of engines transitioning between business, commercial, and military aviation, she added. The CF34-3 found on the Bombardier Challenger, for example, was also used on early CRJs (Canadair regional jets). Likewise, she noted, the CF34-10 GE is pitching for the B-52 is a more powerful variant of the CF34-3. “And then we have a number of examples of engines that have gone from commercial to military aviation as well,” Vigeant-Langlois said.
At 18,000 pounds of thrust, GE claims that the Passport has 30 percent better fuel burn than the B-52's current Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-3/103 turbofans, which each deliver 17,000 pounds of thrust. A recent record flight on the Global 7500 also makes the Passport an attractive alternative for the B-52. The flight between Sydney, Australia, and Detroit, Michigan, capped an 8,225-nm journey for the 7500, which has a published range of 7,700 nm. That compares with the current range of the B-52H, which is 7,652 nm.
Assembled at GE’s Strother Field plant near Winfield, Kansas, the Passport engines are sent to the company’s facility near Peebles, Ohio, before being delivered to Bombardier in Montreal. GE officials declined to say how many engines it has assembled and delivered to Bombardier thus far. The 7500 entered service late last year, and Bombardier said it remains on track to deliver 15 to 20 of the type this year. So far, GE has heard positive comments about the Passport’s performance, Vigeant-Langlois said. “We’ve heard some terrific feedback from pilots flying with the engine.”