General Electric is hoping to secure funding in 2003 to launch full-scale development of the F414 Enhanced Durability Engine (EDE) for the US Navy's Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. This will build on a series of improvements to the powerplant's fan and core due for demonstration next year.

Initial development of an improved high-pressure turbine (HPT) and high-pressure compressor (HPC) has started as part of science and technology programmes funded by GE, the US Navy and the US Air Force.

The F414 EDE changes promise 2% better specific fuel consumption (SFC) and either a 15% boost in thrust or threefold increase in component durability, says George Bolln, GE F404/414 general manager.

An HPT has been designed with 3D aerodynamic blades and advanced cooling to give a 2% improvement in efficiency and a 65°C (150°F) higher turbine inlet temperature. GE is also designing a reduced stage (six instead of seven) HPC, with wide-chord swept blades and bowed/leaned stators giving a 3% efficiency improvement.

As the USN does not have a requirement for more F/A-18E/F power, the emphasis is on extending component life: "We're taking advanced technology and seeing what we can do in terms of cost of operation. We could save $1 billion in total ownership costs over 20 years. If retrofitted to existing F414 engines this increases to $2billion," says Bolln.

GE is planning to conduct a demonstration of the F414 EDE core in the last quarter of next year.

If engineering and manufacturing development funding can be secured in 2003, the new HPT and HPC could be incorporated as part of the second multi-year procurement of F/A-18E/F engines from 2008 onwards.

Bolln says the F414 EDE cost would be a third that of developing an all-new engine such as the PW7000 proposal put forward by Pratt & Whitney (Flight International, 24-30 April).

Longer term, GE is proposing a two-stage fan with a forward swept all-blisk fan, a 10% pressure ratio increase and, if combined with the EDE's HPT and HPC, a 4% SFC improvement and 20% boost in thrust over the existing 22,000lb-thrust (98kN) F414. The new fan is due for rig testing next year.

Source: Flight International