NASA to fund Boeing for open rotor noise study

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NASA's Langley Research Centre plans to issue a contract to Boeing to perform noise studies of open rotor engine configurations on several types of airframes in a company-owned low-speed aeroacoustics facility.

Boeing and Airbus are both considering new generation and highly efficient open rotor engine designs as potential candidates for the successor to the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 families of aircraft in the 2020 and timeframe and beyond. Experiments in the 1980s with open rotor designs by several engine manufacturers revealed noise as a key issue in bringing the designs to market.

The Boeing contract, called the open rotor propulsion airframe aeroacoustics experiment, will follow earlier research performed by the company for NASA under a $60 million multi-year structures and materials program that also involved contracts with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Analytic Services and Materials. The previous work included propulsion/airframe aeroacoustic integration and experimentation with jet engine integration with both traditional tube/wing and blended wing-body aircraft configurations, according to NASA.

In the new task, Boeing will experiment with noise issues using an open rotor propulsion noise simulator integrated with both traditional and unconventional designs, like the blended wing-body, according to NASA.