Price Induction is funded for new turbofans

Paris Air Show » 2009
June 9, 2009, 10:02 AM

Price Induction, a French startup company based in Anglet in the southwest of the country, is here exhibiting two engine mockups (Hall 3 Stand A25). The first is its new 570-pound-thrust DGEN 380 turbofan engine and the other is its Taor contrafan concept. Company executives claim to have raised enough funds to complete the DGEN certification program.

The DGEN 380’s core engine is undergoing a new series of ground tests in nearby Tarnos. “We will be focusing is on improving internal aerodynamics until July or August,” deputy manager Romain Cassan told AIN. He also explained that the engine undergoing testing is assembled in such a way as to make manufacturing easier and to decrease vibrations. A full-authority digital engine control is part of the trials, too.

The first test campaign, with a full engine, ended in 2007, with the powerplant accruing 50 hours and 1,200 starts. But the company has delayed DGEN 380 certification to mid-2011.

Nonetheless, delivery of one engine took place in September, to ISAE, a Toulouse-based aerospace engineering school that uses it for educational purposes. “They keep us informed about their own test results,” Cassan said.

With such a small thrust, an application aircraft would likely be in the four- to six-seat category. So, the DGEN is designed for aircraft that are smaller than in-service very light jets, such as the Cessna Citation Mustang. It is well suited to aircraft with speeds up to 250 knots and a flight envelope having a maximum altitude of 20,000 to 25,000 feet. The program is going forward, Cassan said, regardless whether an application aircraft is found and, as yet, none has been firmed up.

Last summer Price Induction completed a €10 million ($14 million) fundraising campaign, adding Financière de Brienne and Aerofund as new shareholders. According to Cassan, there is enough money available to certify an uprated version, the DGEN 390. The DGEN 390 has a different core but keeps 95 percent of common parts with the DGEN 380. Its takeoff thrust is 740 pounds. It can therefore support speeds up to 300 knots.

In considering a first application, Cassan said it could be developed by a former Embraer design engineer, Guido Pessotti. According to Cassan, Pessotti has created a company called GP Aerospace and has plans for a jet powered by a pair of DGEN 390s. “We are carrying on with our discussions with Diamond Aircraft, Cirrus and Cessna,” Cassan added.

An engine in the DGEN family has one fan, one stage of high-pressure compressor, one stage of high-pressure turbine and one stage of low-pressure turbine. This simplicity disguises innovations such as a geared fan and a shaft-mounted electric generator. The bypass ratio, at 7.6, is high for this class of engines.

Here at the Paris Air Show, the company–which employs about 30 people–also is exhibiting a mockup of a turbofan with two counter-rotating fans. Called the Taor concept, it based either on the DGEN 380 or the DGEN 390, and could provide 720 or 900 pounds of thrust, respectively.

Fuel burn would be cut by 15 to 20 percent, according to Cassan. “We are giving us another 12 to 18 months to decide whether we launch the Taor,” he said.

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