GE Aviation and Safran, both of whom operate a joint venture in CFM Engines, the world’s largest jet engine maker by the number of units sold, have started to work on new technology, aiming to unveil a new, more sustainable jet engine for the narrowbody aircraft by 2035.
Launching RISE technology demonstrator
GE & Safran, in a press conference on June 12, 2021, talked about their plans for demonstrating their new jet engine for the first time. RISE stands for Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines.
The engine-making behemoth’s owners claim that the engine, for which some of the technologies already exist, but not integrated or improvised to current standards, should be showcased later this decade, and enter service in the 2030s, possibly on the back of a new airframe from one or both the aircraft majors (Boeing and Airbus).
At the press conference, GE & Safran CEOs talked about how aviation had a lofty target to cut their emissions by 2050 to 50% of current emissions, and hence new technology development had to start now to be able to get there in the next three decades.
Per them, the cutbacks in emission will largely come from the use of sustainable fuel and new technology, but also by improved air traffic management. The goal of the new engine development is to reduce fuel consumption and Co2 emissions by over 20% from the current version of engines (LEAP), which has itself bested the CFM56 engine by a 15% improvement in fuel burn.
Currently, the CFM LEAP is the largest selling option of single-aisle jet engines, being the only option available for the 737 MAX aircraft and one of the two options for the Airbus A320neo aircraft.
The new aircraft engine will be an open-rotor concept, which will be put on the outside of the engine cowling to capture more air. Earlier attempts, including demonstrations made in the 1980s, had to contend with many concerns, including the noise produced by such engines. However, this time around, the engine major is confident that the engine will be as quiet as the current generation of LEAP engines, if not more.
An open rotor architecture will provide huge propulsive efficiency but should be able to fly at the speed of today’s turbofans, says GE Aviation. The RISE engine will also be fuel source agnostic, being able to run on 100% sustainable aviation fuel, or even hydrogen.
Extending the CFM Joint Venture to 2050
GE & Safran also extended their joint venture, CFM for another decade, until 2050. CFM has to date delivered over 35,000 engines globally and was set up in 1974. A CFM-powered jet takes off every two seconds.
The next-generation aircraft might have a more sustainable power plant. GE/Safran are working on it, via their JV CFM engines. The new engine demonstration is expected to be presented later in the 2020s and might be ready to be put on a plane by the 2030s. The new technology is expected to cut back emissions by 20%, helping aviation get closer to its 2050 goal of halving emissions.
What do you think of the new move by GE and Safran?
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