A titanic battle appears to be shaping up in the 10,000-pound thrust segment of the aero engine market, where there is a need for powerplants to drive the coming super-midsize and large business jets, as well as smaller regional airliners.
Snecma is progressing with its plans to develop a turbofan in the 10,000-pound-thrust class. Last October, the French manufacturer revealed plans to enter the business jet engine market. Design of the Silvercrest powerplant is well under way and the core should run later this year.
The pace of new technology infusion in helicopter turbine engines is not slowing.
General Electric, Honeywell, Pratt & Whitney Canada and Rolls-Royce all have significant civil turboshaft development in progress. Turbomeca has no major program under way, apart from the (mostly military) Ardiden. But the French-based firm has precise views about future key technology advancements.
French engine manufacturer Snecma is making progress with plans to develop a turbofan in the 10,000-pound-thrust class. The manufacturer revealed plans last October to enter the business jet engine market. Design of the Silvercrest powerplant is now well under way, and the core is scheduled to run later this year.
The life of a component supplier is a difficult one in the aerospace and business aviation industries. Being dependent on the airframe manufacturers for business severely limits a company’s ability to expand to new markets. But at least one engine manufacturer is having a good go of it these days.
Like the mythical phoenix, the AASI Jetcruzer 450/500 may arise from its ashes to fly again, this time as a single-turbofan, experimental airplane rather than a certified single-turboprop pusher. It was in April 2002 that Advanced Aerodynamics & Structures Inc. (AASI), after completing its acquisition of the bankrupt Mooney Aircraft Co., changed its name, as expected, to Mooney Aerospace Group (MASG).
Safire Aircraft has selected Keith Products to supply the air conditioning for its very light jet, which is currently under development. The vapor-cycle system will be standard equipment on the six-place twinjet. Miami-based Safire also named Barry Controls to provide vibration isolators and mounting structure for the airplane’s two Williams International FJ33 turbofans.
The advent of very light jets has prompted an FAA proposal to require that all new certification projects for turbofan-powered airplanes of 6,000 pounds or less mtow undergo function and reliability testing similar to that which has been required for larger fanjet-powered airplanes. F&R testing would add complexity, time and cost to new-design projects. The new requirement would not apply to developmental projects already under way.
At General Electric, the official corporate slogan is “Imagination at work.” At Honda, it’s “The power of dreams.” The two companies announced last month they have merged them in an alliance to develop, certify, market and support Honda’s 1,670-pound-thrust HF118 turbofan. The result could be one of the most innovative global alliances in business-aviation history.
Honeywell’s small heavy fuel engine (SHFE), in development since 2003, “will change the game for turboshaft engines in the future,” predicted Ron Rich, the company’s director of advanced aerospace technology.