The environment is everything these days for engine manufacturers and suppliers, as initiatives such as the recently launched European Commission Clean Sky program drive ever more advanced ideas on reducing emissions and noise.
General Electric GEnx
Rolls-Royce has notched another sale of its Trent XWB engine for the Airbus A350XWB, this time to International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC).
A 16-percent operating cost improvement sounds like a formidable hurdle for any aircraft program, but even more so for one at its outset seen as a low-risk grab at a piece of a target market Boeing itself had dismissed as modest at best. But the 747-8 benefits from one thing that most other programs in the past haven’t–a new engine on which a much more expensive proposition rests in the 787 Dreamliner.
Boeing hasn’t yet worked out how to change between alternative 787 engines in the space of 24 hours. Designing an engine mount that enables engineering crews to swap alternative General Electric GEnx and Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 powerplants in such a short time has proved “challenging,” the U.S. manufacturer concedes.
When a new aircraft is breaking all sales records and only two engine companies compete to supply its power, it is hardly surprising that those two companies are sounding increasingly bullish. Boeing’s announcement in early April that the 787 had passed the 500-order milestone confirmed that the 787 has become the fastest selling commercial aircraft in its history.
Orders for as many as 250 new General Electric (GE) GEnx engines are expected here at the Paris Air Show this week as the Boeing 787 program gathers pace after last year’s hesitant start. Announcements will come as Boeing prepares for the launch of the stretched 747 Advanced (for which it predicts a market for up to 300), and Airbus launches its A350 variant of the A330–both programs representing applications of the new engine.
Say what you will about Boeing’s political and boardroom troubles over the past few years, the company’s technical proficiency doesn’t appear to have diminished. Just ask 787 program manager Mike Bair, whose engineering team continues to meet virtually every scheduling milestone set when the company launched the Dreamliner project a little more than a year ago.
The General Electric GEnx turbofan is one of the two new engine families under development for the 787, but will be the sole option for the new 747, in a 66,500-pound-thrust version which is designated GEnx-2B67. It has the same core but a different fan and fan case.
General Electric is clearly delighted with the latest Emirates Airline order for 42 Boeing 777s and 20 options as it will supply the GE90 engines to power them, adding more than $2.5 billion in business to an already highly successful year.
Never before has commercial air transport come under such scrutiny for its environmental impact. While aircraft have made far more progress in terms of reducing fuel consumption and emissions per passenger carried in recent years, the relentless overall growth of air traffic has led to increasing pressure from the environmental lobby to reduce the noise and emissions produced by modern powerplants.