Safran and French national aerospace research agency ONERA have begun windtunnel tests of Ecoengine – a one-fifth-scale demonstrator of a future open-fan design.

Conducted at ONERA’s facility in Modane, southeastern France, the tests are to support the maturation of the open-fan’s aerodynamic and acoustic performance.

Ecoengine Safran à l'ONERA-R Alary_Safran

Source: R Alary/Safran

Latest campaign will validate performance of fan module

Covered by a framework agreement between the two parties, the four-year test campaign – which runs until 2028 – builds on previous trials with the Ecoengine.

Around 200h of windtunnel tests will be performed during the latest phase, which is designed to assess the performance of the fan module through “simulating real-world airspeeds” and validate the design of the fan blades.

Safran plans a follow-on phase of “simulation tests” where the engine will be mounted on a demonstrator wing section.

Assessment and validation of the engine’s performance is being supported by the French civil aviation authority DGAC.

Safran sees an open-rotor engine as offering a route to cutting fuel burn, and therefore CO2 emissions, by 20%. It is pursuing development of the technology through the RISE demonstrator programme being undertaken by its CFM International joint venture with GE Aerospace.

“This series of windtunnel tests is a major milestone in our research and technology roadmap, which aims to develop the technological building blocks for the next breed of commercial jet engines,” says Pierre Cottenceau, vice-president engineering and R&T for Safran Aircraft Engines.

“With the RISE programme, Safran Aircraft Engines is contributing our long-standing expertise to the development of the fan module to demonstrate the benefits of an unshrouded engine architecture on the ground and in flight by mid-decade.”

Ecoengine2 at ONERA-c-R Alary_Safran

Source: R Alary/Safran

Ecoengine trials will support Safran’s commitment to the RISE programme

Safran is investing elsewhere in its network to support the RISE programme, which is targeting service entry of a new narrowbody powerplant in the 2035 timeframe.

Ingestion tests have already been performed on open-rotor fan blades at Safran’s site in Villaroche, near Paris, where it is also building a new test stand facility to support work on RISE.

Due to become operational in 2025, it will feature an 8m (26ft)-wide chamber and will be used for development and certification tests on the RISE engine.

Additionally, the French manufacturer is leading a €139 million ($151 million) project alongside 26 European partners, part-funded by the EU’s Clean Aviation programme, which is also focussed on open-fan propulsion.

The project, called OFELIA – or open fan for environmental low impact of aviation – runs until 2025 and will “focus on this high TRL [technology readiness level] full-scale demonstration of the engine architecture and on the development of key enablers for the open fan”, Clean Aviation documents disclose.

“Following the architecture definition, OFELIA will perform a large-scale open-fan engine ground-test campaign, deliver flightworthy propulsive system definition and prepare an in-flight demonstration for phase two of Clean Aviation.”