LONDON – As the aviation industry enters a new phase after 3 years of Covid-19 hibernation, the general industry consensus is a shift to sustainable energy and greater awareness of environmental impact.
Rising environmental awareness has allowed companies like General Electric to innovate their powertrain product to be more environmentally friendly and efficient.
Airbus and CFM International have declared a 50/50 joint venture between General Electric and Safran Aircraft Engines. Earlier this year in February, the two firms announced that they would work together on an engine using hydrogen propulsion.
At the Farnborough Airshow 2022, Airbus announced that it would advocate for CFM to participate in the RISE (Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines) program which was introduced in 2021.
This environmentally friendly drive aims to push advanced technology to better serve the development of next-generation CFM engines that will consume 20% less fuel and create 20% fewer emissions than most powertrains of all commercial aircraft jet engines available on the market today.
These “newer” CFM turbofans are expected to be introduced to the market in the mid-2030s. In the second half of this decade, GE will partner with Airbus to perform flight tests on the new engines, using the Airbus A380 as a test bed, to be used as a demonstration program.
In fact, the companies of Airbus, CFM, GE and Safran are members of the Air Transport Action Group, which fully demonstrates the commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions in the industry by 2050.
Gaël Méheust enthused: “We have a vision and a commitment to help the industry achieve its zero emissions goals, and the Open Fan Flight Test Demonstration program is an exciting step towards getting there.”
CFM Open Fan Architecture
The fan located in front of the powertrain is “open” because, unlike any other conventional turbofan, it is not covered by a shell or casing, which inevitably reduces excess weight. This allows engineers to enlarge the fans which allow for better propulsion, from higher volumes of air particles gathering around the fans rather than inside the core.
The volume differences are called bypass rate, which is a crucial mechanical term for describing powertrain efficiency. CFM engines have gradually increased their bypass ratio over time, from 5:10 in the 80s, to the LEAP engine, with a ratio of 11:1.
An open ventilation system could technically achieve a ratio of 70:1, which means a 20% reduction in fuel consumption and emissions compared to conventional engines.
Bypass rate: the volume of air passing around the motor core relative to the volume of air passing through the core.
It appears that hybrid electric motors and Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) could contribute to higher emissions and fuel reductions. GE has proactively sought to develop cleaner and more efficient products since the introduction of its first CFM58 engines in the early 1980s.
Since then, its team of talented engineers has never stopped working to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions.
The Airbus A380 has been chosen to be the testbed, and it appears to be a new role for the aircraft, as is the Boeing 747, being a guinea pig for major avionics and engine companies.