As a self-confessed ‘home grown tomato’, GE’s newly-appointed president and chief executive has been with the US engine giant for 28 years and speaking to Flight Daily News just before the Farnborough airshow, he admitted that he was hugely excited about game-changing developments over the coming years.

He says: “I’m taking over at an exciting time when oil prices are hovering around $135/140 meaning that we need to look at the fundamental physics of jet engines.

“For the past three years we have run rig tests on compressors, combustors and high-pressure turbines and we’re now building a brand new core – the ‘E-core’ for Efficiency, Environmental friendliness and Expertise – that will be the technology cornerstone for a new generation of jet engines for narrow-body, regional and business jets.

David Joyce 

Joyce says there are three related sciences involved.  Firstly, aerodynamicists have to decide how to compress the air more efficiently so that the compressor, turbine and combustion systems all work well together.  Secondly, durable materials have to be developed that are both lighter and capable of withstanding even higher temperatures. 

Finally, the architecture must be finalised, including the number of stages and whether it’s to be open rotor, turbofan or turboprop.

He says: “The E Core raises the bar as the fuel-efficiency targets exceed competitive engine offers - including P&W’s GTF - by at least 3%.”

The first ‘E Core’ demonstrator will run in 2009 and this will be followed by a second core demonstrator in 2011 and finally a complete engine in 2012/2013.

GE and NASA are to run a wind-tunnel test programme to evaluate contra-rotating fan-blade systems for open rotor jet engines technology that has a by-pass ratio of around 35:1, giving fuel savings of around 30% compared to today. The fan blades will be designed by Snecma, GE’s longtime 50/50 partner in CFM International.

The NASA test rig was last used in the 1980s when the research led to the GE36 open rotor engine being developed – and flown on B727 and MD-80 aircraft - although it never entered service due to the low fuel prices of the day.

Source: Flight International