I'm knee-deep in writing about new engine technology while trying to work through some patience-stretching computer problems (my little workhorse appears to have picked up something nasty in Sin City last week...I barely let her out of my sight!). While sifting through my notes, however, I came across this gem from IATA technical and operations specialist Juergen Haacker, who says the key point for engine manufacturers now is: "What do you need, manufacturing-wise, to accelerate this type of R&D activity?"
The answer, says Haacker, is "very interesting". Manufacturers say there are a number of prerequisites that must be met, including a "predictability of the future political environment for new engines". Best of luck to them on that one.
Noise versus emissions is very important, especially when considering open rotor technology. "If the government, especially local green activists, also push on the noise element locally, then the open rotor concept may not have the same chances. That is where IATA could step in and work with them," he says.
Another issue is taxation. The UK, for example, is putting extra taxes on aviation based on aircraft weight, and does not take new technology into account, notes Haacker. This means that old-design aircraft will have the same tax as the Boeing 787. "You have to push the market in favour of giving lower taxes to more fuel-efficient aircraft. This is the second element we are working hard on."
The proposition that a new narrowbody replacement (that offers at least 15% improvement in operating costs) might not become available, as projected, until the latter part of the next decade is unacceptable, says KLM senior VP, corporate fleet development & aircraft trading Jan Witsenboer. “We look with interest in open rotor technology as a development, still very immature of course, and there are a lot of issues to solve, but [it would be] far too late to start in 2018 or even later.”
In terms of Bombardier’s proposed CSeries with the GTF (of which I wrote extensively about here), Air France-KLM certainly sees a market. “It could be a very promising technology but it is really more on the regional aircraft [side] with up to 130 seats," says Witsenboer. "Certainly in that area of regional aircraft and engines, it certainly is new [and] there is not a lot of competition there. We look at all the possibilities.”