GE progresses with development of CF34 successor

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GE Aviation has allocated "roughly two years" to technology development within its NG34 programme, ahead of the full engine development phase that it hopes will deliver a new powerplant in the 2015 timeframe.

Chuck Nugent, general manager of the CF34 turbofan programme, detailed the manufacturer's plans at a media briefing held on the sidelines of the ERA General Assembly in Interlaken, Switzerland.

The prospective NG34 engine would be expected to deliver a 10-15% reduction in operating costs, with 15-20% lower specific fuel consumption, a 50-60% margin to CAEP/6 NOx emission limits, a 15 EPNdB margin to International Civil Aviation Organisation Chapter 4 noise limits, and 99.98% reliability. Fuel burn improvements will be sought from propulsive and thermal efficiency, component efficiency and advanced engine systems.

The engine will have a similar thrust range as today's 14,000lb thrust (62kN) class CF34-8 engine that powers the Bombardier CRJ700/900 and Embraer 170/175.

"Full-scale" technology development is already under way, encompassing the generation of new versions of the "eCore" engine core and twin annular pre-swirl (TAPS) combustor deployed in theGEnx engine, which powersthe Boeing 787 and 747-8.

The first version of the NG34 core underwent testing in July 2009. A second core will be developed by 2011. The TAPS combustor will be "optimised in a smaller size for this thrust class", says Nugent.

Composite materials will be used to manufacture an "extra-tough" fan case, he adds. GE is also targeting advanced aerodynamic development in the fan and booster area, as well as the low-pressure turbine.

New technologies will be developed toward a goal of integrating the engine and nacelle system to optimise for weight and fuel burn.

"We've launched about a half dozen different technology programmes designed to ensure the technology is at the right level of capability before we launch the full-scale development programme," says Nugent.

Meanwhile, GE has supplied six CF34-10As for flight tests of China's ARJ21 regional jet.