The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) has commissioned a wind tunnel to help aircraft manufacturers measure the noise levels generated by aircraft landing gear. Industry historically has focused on measuring and reducing the noise generated only by engines.
Almost three full decades ago a battle was raging over the powerplant options for what was then the all-new Airbus A320. The competitors–CFM International and International Aero Engines (IAE)–were making claim and counter-claim as to the potential advantages their respective engines would bring to the aircraft, which had been developed to grab a slice of the huge single-aisle market until then dominated by the ubiquitous Boeing 737.
Business jet engine programs this year seem to be moving slowly, with little progress to report. Some–like the Snecma Silvercrest–have not been officially launched yet and are still looking for an application. Most news comes from derivative engine programs at Honeywell, Pratt & Whitney Canada and Williams International.
The design of new airframes always depends heavily on availability of new engine types. The very light jet segment, for example, had to wait until engine manufacturers Pratt & Whitney Canada and Williams International designed smaller engines to power a new class of light jet, and the same is true on the upper end of the market, with new large jets spurring development of ever more powerful and efficient turbofans.
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.
Researchers across Europe have made substantial progress in their pursuit of the cleaner, more fuel efficient engines that will be needed if air traffic is to continue growing without its environmental impact becoming unacceptable.
The in-development geared turbofan (GTF) has been attracting most of the headlines at engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney lately, and it does indeed promise to make a large leap in powerplant efficiency and environmental friendliness when it enters airline service in 2013.
It seems unlikely that new engine architectures such as the geared turbofan or the open rotor will make it to business aviation in the near or even mid term. According to engine manufacturers, these concepts are not suited to the needs of business aircraft, which require a lot of thrust during almost the entire flight.
Turbofan engine makers active in business aviation– such as General Electric, Honeywell, Pratt & Whitney Canada, Rolls-Royce and Snecma– all have their hands full with research-and-development (R&D) programs, many of which are driven by aircraft programs. However, almost all of the engine companies also run demonstration programs that will not necessarily morph into full engine development.
UK-based Rolls-Royce and GKN Aerospace have established a joint venture to study the use of composite materials in fan blades. The engine manufacturer and the aerostructure specialist are investing, on a 51-49 basis, £11 million ($22 million) in
a research and development program. For Rolls-Royce, this could signal a major shift from a well established design choice.