A year ago, EBACE was full of talk about which engine manufacturers would compete for the upcoming requirement for a 10,000-pound-thrust class engine to power the new generation of super-midsize business jets. At that time, no fewer than five companies appeared to be serious about competing in the sector.
Safire Aircraft, thanks to a new “Swiss syndicate of investors,” has gotten fresh funding that it claims will carry development of the S-26 very light jet through the aircraft’s first flight.
Turbine-engine technology development is going in two directions. One is the development of new technology to push the envelope of performance, operational safety, maintainability and reliability. The other is to refine and update existing engines for long-term use, especially in light of more stringent Stage 4 requirements and existing Stage 3 rules.
The PW600 family of small turbofans, in the form of a 2,500-lb-thrust demonstrator engine, entered flight test last month mounted on P&WC’s Boeing 720 testbed. The engine was tested to an altitude of 43,000 ft and performance, handling and relight testing “exceeded our expectations,” said P&WC director of small turbofans Maurice Weinberg. The engine has not yet been selected for any specific airframe.
Two NASA-industry partnerships could produce tangible benefits for aircraft operators in the near term. The turbofan engine research is being conducted by NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland as part of its aerospace propulsion and power program, the same division that Williams International teamed up with to develop the 700-lb-thrust FJX2 turbofan.
An airframe match for one or both new small turbofan designs currently under development by Pratt & Whitney Canada may be announced at this month’s NBAA Convention. Two years ago, the engine maker revealed it was working on two new engines: the PW600F, a 2,000- to 2,400-lb-thrust model, and, in a joint development program with Raytheon Aircraft, the 2,500-lb-thrust PW625F.
Pratt & Whitney Canada last month announced its plan to invest $90 million in the construction of a new flight-test operations center at Montreal Mirabel International Airport. The 164,000-sq-ft facility will feature two bays and will support a range of engines, from turboprops to turbofans producing up to 90,000 pounds of thrust.
Starting with its first “clean sheet” engine design since 1972, but minus one of the two original customers, Honeywell brought the new AS907 to dual FAA engine and production certification in June, just 44 months after the project was launched.
On June 10 Honda flew its latest jet engine design for the first time. In the 1,900-lb-thrust range, the engine flew on a modified Cessna CitationJet from Honda’s purpose-built research facility at Atlantic Aero in Greensboro, N.C. Concurrently, Honda is busily at work on a CJ-size airframe in Greensboro, with first flight expected in January.
Late last week, Diamond Aircraft selected a more powerful version of the Williams FJ33 turbofan–the FJ33-4A-19–for its single-engine D-Jet. With 1,900 pounds of thrust versus 1,564 pounds for the originally planned FJ33-4A-15, the more powerful engine offers “a potential future performance upgrade path” for the very light jet.