Airbus began the 2,500-hour flight-test program for its new A350XWB when the new long-range widebody took off for the first time at almost exactly 10:00 a.m. local time in Toulouse, France, on Friday. The eagerly awaited first flight over southwestern France lasted slightly more than four hours and the twinjet, powered by Rolls-Royce’s Trent XWB engines, safely touched down back in Toulouse at 2:05 p.m.
As Pratt & Whitney Canada (Chalet (A) 330) saw revenues from its business jet engine segment suffer through one of the industry’s steepest downturns in history, the company’s highly diversified product line has allowed it to, as P&WC president John Saabas put it, “ride the wave” of fortune in other sectors and consolidate its leading position in the small engine business.
Airbus’s choice of the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan on the A320neo and Rolls-Royce’s subsequent divesture in engine joint-venture IAE might have signaled to some the beginning of the end of the V2500 turbofan.
Pratt & Whitney CEO David Hess doesn’t spend time lamenting his company’s decision to forgo a bid for a place on Boeing’s proposed 777X. In fact, during a recent interview with AIN at his company’s campus in West Palm Beach, Florida, Hess expressed not an inkling of regret, evidently taking comfort in the narrowbody market’s virtually unequivocal acceptance of his company’s geared turbofan platform. “Our plate’s pretty full right now,” said Hess.
A recent Boeing study predicted a demand for up to 23,000 single-aisle airliners over the next 20 years. For the three engine manufacturers involved in the seven single-aisle aircraft currently in development, the business case for developing all-new engines to power them has been more than justified.
Raisbeck Engineering’s swept-blade “turbofan propellers” for the King Air 200 series are now approved in Brazil after the Brazilian National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) granted certification late last month.
A spokesperson for Raisbeck Engineering told AIN, “There are about 500 King Airs in Brazil alone, making it a major market for us. We hope that the swept-blade prop reenergizes our presence in the South American region and we’ll be focusing a lot of our attention on the market as it continues to grow.”
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz., will incorporate five turbofan components from previously repaired engines, a donation from Snecma America Engine Services (Sames), into its aerospace and mechanical engineering programs.
The donated items (a fan shaft assembly, thrust bearing, compressor rotor shaft, fuel manifold ring and high-pressure turbine rear shaft) came from a CFM56-5A, the engine that powers single-aisle aircraft such as the Airbus A319 and A320. The components will help expand engineering students’ understanding of turbine engines.
A switch from composite to titanium for the inner walls of the thrust reversers on the Boeing 737 Max has allowed designers to increase the fan diameter in the airplane’s CFM International Leap-1B turbofans without a proportional increase in the size of the nacelle. The relatively minimal growth of the nacelle means Boeing could keep its original plans for coping with the small amount of ground clearance margin available while optimizing thrust levels, explained 737 Max program vice president and general manager Keith Leverkuhn.
The price of maintaining Rolls-Royce Spey engines, which power the Gulfstream II and III, has dropped dramatically over the last several years, according to MRO shops and operators. Gulfstream made 460 GIIs and GIIIs between 1966 and 1987, but operators increasingly are scrapping them in response to rising fuel prices and more stringent anti-noise requirements that will require the installation of hush kits or restrict operations.
More than two years after Boeing acknowledged problems with the 747-8’s flight management computer (FMC), the airplane carrying a package of improvements largely centered on the Honeywell FMC took to the air last week. Taking off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, at 1:30 p.m. local time on May 20, the 747-8 Intercontinental flew for about four hours with the newly upgraded FMC and a performance improvement package (PIP) for its General Electric GEnx-2B turbofans.