En­gines with Dif­fer­ence

There is fierce com­pe­ti­tion to de­liver to­mor­row’s air­craft with en­gines that are much lighter, qui­eter and more en­ergy-ef­fi­cient than the con­ven­tional tur­bo­fan en­gines used presently

SP's Aviation - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - BY R. CHAN­DRAKANTH

EN­GINES ARE THE LIFE of an air­craft. Any im­prove­ment in longevity, ef­fi­ciency and per­for­mance in life is al­ways most wel­come as it has a cas­cad­ing ef­fect on many other as­pects in the life-cy­cle of an air­craft and eco­nomics of an air­line or any other op­er­a­tor. En­gine mak­ers are con­stantly work­ing on new re­search to ad­vance/en­hance the above as­pects in an en­gine. There is fierce com­pe­ti­tion to de­liver to­mor­row’s air­craft with en­gines that are much lighter, qui­eter and more en­ergy-ef­fi­cient than the con­ven­tional tur­bo­fan en­gines used presently. In com­mer­cial avi­a­tion, the ma­jor players in the man­u­fac­tur­ing of tur­bo­fan en­gines are Pratt & Whit­ney, Gen­eral Electric, Roll­sRoyce and CFM In­ter­na­tional, a joint ven­ture be­tween Safran Air­craft En­gines and Gen­eral Electric. A ma­jor en­trant into the market is Aero­engine Cor­po­ra­tion of China. All the en­gine man­u­fac­tur­ers have in the pipe­line, de­vel­op­ments that are go­ing to make air travel that much more com­fort­able.

PRATT & WHIT­NEY’S GEARED TUR­BO­FAN EN­GINE IS REVOLUTIONISING MOD­ERN FLIGHT AS THE MOST EF­FI­CIENT, QUI­ETEST AND THE MOST SUS­TAIN­ABLE EN­GINE ON THE MARKET

GE9X, WORLD’S LARGEST EN­GINE

The GE9X jet en­gine that GE Avi­a­tion is de­vel­op­ing for Boe­ing’s next-gen­er­a­tion wide-body pas­sen­ger jet, the 777X, is wider than the body of a Boe­ing 737 and more pow­er­ful than Amer­ica’s first manned space rocket. It’s also a big deal for the com­pany’s busi­ness. Although the world’s largest en­gine isn’t sched­uled to en­ter service un­til around 2020, the com­pany al­ready has recorded some 700 or­ders and com­mit­ments val­ued at $28 bil­lion at list price. For the first time, the en­gine will in­clude a va­ri­ety of 3D-printed parts and the lat­est com­pos­ite ma­te­ri­als, in­clud­ing the light and heat-re­sis­tant space-age ma­te­ri­als called ce­ramic ma­trix com­pos­ites.

To keep up with com­pe­ti­tion, GE Avi­a­tion needs the fa­cil­i­ties to ac­com­mo­date it. The com­pany has in­vested $4.3 bil­lion in the US and an­other $1.1 bil­lion abroad to meet pro­duc­tion goals. The US in­vest­ments in­clude $214 mil­lion to build five new high-tech plants ad­ding about two mil­lion square feet of new man­u­fac­tur­ing floor space.

GE Avi­a­tion has up­graded its cur­rent plants in West Jef­fer­son in North Carolina and Hook­sett in New Hamp­shire. Ad­di­tion­ally, it cre­ated cen­tres for ad­di­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing and other emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies such as dig­i­tal en­gine mon­i­tor­ing and CMC de­vel­op­ment.

The LEAP was the first jet en­gine de­vel­oped for pas­sen­ger air­craft with parts from CMCs. To meet de­mand, the GE Avi­a­tion fac­tory in Huntsville, Alabama, will make raw ma­te­ri­als for com­pos­ites and send them to Asheville, N orth Carolina, for pro­duc­tion. The plants will draw on ex­per­tise from CMC re­search labs in Cincin­nati,

Ohio and Newark, Delaware. The com­pany says this is “Amer­ica’s first fully-in­te­grated sup­ply chain to mass pro­duce com­po­nents from this ad­vanced ma­te­rial.”

GE Avi­a­tion also opened an Ad­di­tive De­vel­op­ment Cen­ter in Cincin­nati and a com­po­nent pro­duc­tion op­er­a­tion in Auburn, Alabama, where over 40 ad­di­tive ma­chines are mass producing com­mer­cial and mil­i­tary en­gine com­po­nents.

Although bulk of the en­gine pro­duc­tion will take place in the United States, most of the en­gines will be ex­ported to cus­tomers in Asia, the Mid­dle East, Europe and else­where. The com­pany says that two-thirds of its over $25 bil­lion in an­nual rev­enues comes from in­ter­na­tional sales. “GE Avi­a­tion is a global com­pany with sig­nif­i­cant tech­nol­ogy ca­pa­bil­ity around the world,” said Colleen Athans, Vice Pres­i­dent and Gen­eral Man­ager of the GE Avi­a­tion Sup­ply Chain. “At the same time, we are in­tro­duc­ing sev­eral highly pro­pri­etary tech­nolo­gies that are up­ping our man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties in the United States.”

ROLLS-ROYCE ULTRAFAN EN­GINE DE­SIGN

Rolls-Royce has com­menced high-power test­ing of the world’s most pow­er­ful aero­space gear­box, mark­ing an­other sig­nif­i­cant step in the de­vel­op­ment of new UltraFan en­gine de­sign. Avail­able from 2025, UltraFan will of­fer 25 per cent fuel ef­fi­ciency im­prove­ment over the first-gen­er­a­tion Rolls-Royce Trent en­gine, with power scal­able for wide­body or nar­row-body air­craft. The tests are tak­ing place at its Power Gear­box (PGB) Cen­ter of Ex­cel­lence in Dahle­witz, Germany, where the gear­box will ul­ti­mately run at up to 1,00,000 horse­power – the equiv­a­lent of over 100 For­mula One cars.

Mike White­head, Rolls-Royce Chief En­gi­neer and Head of Pro­gramme Ul­tra-

THE LEAP DE­LIV­ERS A 15 PER CENT IM­PROVE­MENT IN FUEL CON­SUMP­TION AND MAIN­TAINS A HIGH LEVEL OF DIS­PATCH RE­LI­A­BIL­ITY AND LIFE-CY­CLE MAIN­TE­NANCE COSTS

Fan Tech­nolo­gies, Civil Aero­space, said, “We are con­tin­u­ing to de­liver on the UltraFan pro­gramme and this lat­est achieve­ment marks an­other mile­stone. Hav­ing suc­cess­fully started tests on the At­ti­tude Rig last year, we are now start­ing Power Rig tests and it is re­ally ex­cit­ing to see our fu­ture tech­nol­ogy come to life.”

CFM’S SUC­CESS­FUL LEAP

Sim­i­larly re­search at CFM In­ter­na­tional has led to the de­vel­op­ment of LEAP which stands for Lead­ing Edge Avi­a­tion Propul­sion. The LEAP de­liv­ers a 15 per cent im­prove­ment in fuel con­sump­tion, com­pared to to­day’s best CFM56 en­gines and main­tains the same level of dis­patch re­li­a­bil­ity and life-cy­cle main­te­nance costs. Lever­ag­ing the suc­cesses and un­ri­valed ex­pe­ri­ence of the CFM56 pro­gramme, the LEAP en­gine is built for 99.98 per cent dis­patch re­li­a­bil­ity which means more time in the air than on main­te­nance.

The LEAP en­gine’s fan blades are man­u­fac­tured from 3D wo­ven resin trans­fer mold­ing car­bon fi­bre com­pos­ite, an in­dus­try first for CFM. This tech­nol­ogy re­sults in fan blades that are not only light­weight, but so durable that each in­di­vid­ual blade is strong enough to sup­port the weight of a wide-body air­plane like the Air­bus A350 or Boe­ing 787.

PRATT & WHIT­NEY’S PUREPOWER

While at Pratt & Whit­ney, PurePower en­gines are mak­ing head­lines with good or­ders. Pete Bradley from Pratt & Whit­ney has said that “in­side a jet en­gine, air flow­ing faster than a hurricane is com­bined with fuel to gen­er­ate heat that pow­ers the plane. Designers are turn­ing to su­per­com­put­ers to model these com­plex pro­cesses to make new en­gines that are cleaner, qui­eter and cheaper. Our first air­craft en­gine trans­formed the avi­a­tion in­dus­try. It was the 410-horse­power, air-cooled Wasp which de­liv­ered un­prece­dented per­for­mance and re­li­a­bil­ity for the time. We have been lead­ing change ever since. To­day, Pratt & Whit­ney de­vel­ops game-chang­ing tech­nolo­gies for the fu­ture, such as the PurePower PW1000G en­gine, with patented Geared Tur­bo­fan en­gine tech­nol­ogy. The com­pany’s world­wide large com­mer­cial en­gine main­te­nance, re­pair and over­haul network pro­vides in­no­va­tive ser­vices that add value and de­light cus­tomers around the globe.”

Pratt & Whit­ney’s Geared Tur­bo­fan en­gine is revolutionising mod­ern flight as the most ef­fi­cient, qui­etest and the most sus­tain­able en­gine on the market. Dis­cov­ery Channel Canada’s ‘Daily Planet’ high­lights the in­no­va­tive tech­nol­ogy that is driv­ing the next-gen­er­a­tion of ef­fi­cient, sus­tain­able air travel.

Pratt & Whit­ney says its new en­gines which use an in­ter­nal gear­box to slow down the speed of the fan, could re­duce fuel con­sump­tion by 20 per cent com­pared to an air­liner with con­ven­tional en­gines. Com­peti­tor CFM In­ter­na­tional states that its ad­vanced en­gine LEAP could achieve sim­i­lar im­prove­ments with­out such a rad­i­cal break from ex­ist­ing tech­nol­ogy. Both new en­gines have been de­ployed on dif­fer­ent ver­sions of Air­bus’s new jet, the A320­neo.

D8 NOVEL JUMBO JET DE­SIGN

As men­tioned ear­lier, there is con­tin­u­ous re­search go­ing on at all the air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ers’ fa­cil­i­ties. NASA is sup­port­ing re­search and de­vel­op­ment on a num­ber of ex­per­i­men­tal air­craft in­clud­ing the D8, a novel jumbo-jet de­sign being de­vel­oped by a part­ner­ship that in­cludes Pratt & Whit­ney, MIT and Aurora Flight Sciences. Those in­volved say the D8 could burn 70 per cent less fuel than to­day’s air­craft.

The D8 is a com­mer­cial air­craft con­cept that en­ables sub­stan­tial ef­fi­ciency im­prove­ments within the next decade. In 2008, Aurora Flight Sciences, the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy and Pratt & Whit­ney be­gan an ef­fort spon­sored un­der NASA’s N+3 pro­gramme to rev­o­lu­tionise fu­ture air­craft de­sign. Through physics-based model­ing across mul­ti­ple en­gi­neer­ing dis­ci­plines, the team iden­ti­fied con­fig­u­ra­tion of the air ve­hi­cle as the sin­gle most im­por­tant op­por­tu­nity to achieve a sig­nif­i­cant break­through in en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact. The re­sult was a new air­craft con­fig­u­ra­tion known as the D8, which is ca­pa­ble of achiev­ing sig­nif­i­cant reductions in com­mu­nity noise, emis­sions and fuel burn. The D8 con­fig­u­ra­tion has the po­ten­tial of achiev­ing a 71 per cent re­duc­tion in fuel burn, a 60 EPNdB re­duc­tion in noise and an 87 per cent re­duc­tion in LTO NOx – all rel­a­tive to a best-in-class Boe­ing 737-800 nar­row-body air­craft.

The ef­fi­ciency gains of the D8 are the re­sult of a tightly in­te­grated de­sign ap­proach, con­sid­er­ing the air ve­hi­cle as a sin­gle, in­te­grated sys­tem rather than an assem­bly of in­di­vid­ual parts. For ex­am­ple, in­creased lift gen­er­ated by the wide ‘dou­ble-bub­ble’ fuse­lage means smaller wings are needed to carry the ve­hi­cle’s weight, re­sult­ing in less fuel to fly a given mis­sion. When the en­gines are in­te­grated into the back of the fuse­lage, thrust re­quire­ments are fur­ther re­duced due to ef­fi­cien­cies from Bound­ary Layer Inges­tion. This means that smaller en­gines can be used, which re­duces weight and hence fuel con­sump­tion even fur­ther. This cy­cle of re­peated op­ti­mi­sa­tion is what gives the D8 such ground-break­ing ef­fi­ciency, but it re­quires that all facets of the air­craft be de­signed to­gether.

CUT­TING EDGE TECH­NOL­OGY: CUT­AWAY OF CFM’S LEAP EN­GINE

GAME-CHANG­ING TECH­NOL­OGY: CROSS SEC­TION OF PW1000G EN­GINE

MORE POW­ER­FUL: GE AVI­A­TION’S GE9X JET EN­GINE

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