Monday, July 21, 2008
New Narrow Bodies Could Come as Early as 2017
The next generation engines are promising more than 15 percent better fuel consumption and, according to AVN, when combined with a new airframe, presumably featuring higher seating capacities than current models, the new airframe/engine combination should be able to offer in excess of 20 percent better operating economics than current models. With at least 15 percent considered necessary to encourage operators to switch to new aircraft, the new narrow bodies will be much sought after, said Editor Paul Leighton.
While regional operators may not be interested, both Embraer and Bombardier will be keenly interested since they are both trying to break into the low end of the narrow-body market. Barring development delays, CFM’s new engine means a narrow body replacement could come only four years later than the newly launched Bombardier CSeries. By 2011, CFM will have the option of whether to continue to with the LEAP-X or seek to pursue the open-rotor design, the latter perhaps taking more time to develop. Related Story
It is that timeframe – 2011-2012 – that Embraer hopes to announce its next moves. Related Story A significant upgrade to its current roster of EJets or a new aircraft won’t come before the middle of the next decade, said Embraer, largely because Embraer, like Boeing and Airbus, sees the engine as the pacing technology.
Dates indicated by the airframe manufacturers for a replacement have variously ranged between 2014 through to 2020 and beyond with the latter years becoming the focus, which would be favorable to Bombardier. However, the latter date is expected to be too late for the needs of customers, anxious to improve fuel efficiency and counter the inevitability of levies on emissions, who want to replace current narrow bodies, said Leighton, adding carriers, unable to secure sizeable delivery slots in the near term, have been reluctant to sign up orders for products that are already more than a decade old and, in the case of the A320, 20 years old. Fleet replacement policies of major operators have needed to see beyond mid life incremental improvements to existing products and focus on the next generation of products.
CFM International launched LEAP-X, an entirely new baseline turbofan engine to power future replacements for current narrow-body aircraft. This engine will incorporate revolutionary technologies developed over the last three years as part of the LEAP56 technology acquisition program.
The first full demonstrator engine is scheduled to run in 2012, and LEAP-X could be certified by 2016. This advanced new turbofan will reduce the engine contribution to aircraft fuel burn by up to 16 percent compared to current CFM56 Tech Insertion engines that power the Airbus A320 and Boeing Next-Generation 737 aircraft. Additional fuel burn improvements will be achieved once this engine is paired with new aircraft technology.
The first full core is scheduled to begin testing next year. Hardware for the core, which features an eight-stage compressor and single-stage turbine, is being produced now and the core is targeted to fire by mid-2009.
For the next three years, the company is pursuing parallel paths: the LEAP-X advanced turbofan and the open rotor. The foundational technologies support either architecture, said GE, adding it making good progress toward finding solutions for the inherent technical challenges of an open-rotor configuration.
CFM is currently conducting studies in four areas for the open-rotor configuration: fan aerodynamics and acoustics; mechanical design, including a pitch change mechanism; aircraft installation; and certification methodology. Technology demonstration tests begin next year and will extend through 2011.
The technologies, GE hopes, will springboard it beyond the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbo Fan which has been renamed PurePower PW1000G. That engine has a two-year head start on a novel engine that promises to burn 12 percent less fuel than today's best engines. Pratt & Whitney, meanwhile, is expecting service entry in 2013 with both the Bombardier CSeries and the Mitsubishi MRJ. The company said the new engine could yield a 40 percent decrease in maintenance costs.
Aircraft Value News said Scott Carson, president of Boeing's Commercial Airplanes unit, said the Chicago aerospace company is "very encouraged" by the progress each of the engine companies has made, but he cautioned that all of the concepts carry "significant technical challenges that must be worked through" before Boeing decides to take the next step. John Leahy, Airbus's chief operating officer for customers, agreed: "We're waiting for the engine guys to wow us," he said.
GE, Pratt and Rolls Royce must overcome obstacles including developing alloys and ceramic coatings that can cope with internal engine temperatures that would be above the melting points of untreated metal components.
The next generation of engines may look radically different from those used today, said AVN. Both GE and Rolls are re-exploring technologies first tried in the 1980s, but must resolve noise problems. However, they could yield as much as 24 percent better fuel consumption. A crucial hurdle will be building the propellers in a way that they can't fail, as they did two decades ago. Pratt & Whitney put the engine on a 747 and flew it for the first time Friday, reporting no glitches.
P&W Renames GTF
The engine known as the Geared Turbofan, has been renamed the PurePower 1000G by Pratt & Whitney, which announced the launch of PurePower engines – a new family of next-generation commercial and business jet engines that offer double-digit improvements in fuel burn, environmental emissions, engine noise and operating costs. PurePower engines are targeted to power next generation large business jets, regional jets, single-aisle aircraft and beyond.
The first products to enter service will be the PurePower PW1000G engine set to power both the CSeries and the MRJ. The PurePower PW800 engine, the PW810 version, will power Cessna’s Columbus business jet, scheduled for service entry in 2014.
The Lufthansa order launching the CSeries follows an All Nippon Airways order for 15 Mitsubishi MRJs and options for 10 more, which formally launched the Geared Turbo Fan program. Both aircraft are scheduled to enter service in 2013. Related Story
“Airlines and business aircraft customers want pure engine solutions that deliver economic and environmental benefits without compromises,” said Pratt & Whitney President Steve Finger. “Pratt & Whitney PurePower engines employ game-changing technologies to deliver step-change improvements in environmental performance and operating costs. Pratt & Whitney is the only engine company bringing brand new technologies to the market at a time when airline customers and operators need a comprehensive solution the most.”
The PurePower PW1000G engine uses a state-of-the-art gear system to allow the engine’s fan to operate at a different speed than the low-pressure compressor and turbine, resulting in greater fuel efficiency and a slower fan speed for reduced noise. The lower-spinning fan uses less fuel, generates less heat and noise and releases less nitrogen oxide than other engines. It is an all new centerline engine that includes next generation technology in every major module.
A full-scale PW1000G demonstrator engine recently completed a 250-hour, ground-test program and has begun flight-testing on Pratt & Whitney’s Boeing 747 flight test bed on July 11, launching a flight test program that will run through the end of 2008.
“The PurePower PW1000G engine performed flawlessly and we are excited to build on the success of our ground testing as we begin the flight test phase of this demonstration program,” said Bob Saia, vice president, Next Generation Product Family, Pratt & Whitney Commercial Engines. “The engine continues to meet or exceed all pre-test targets and we are excited to bring this value to our customers.”