Japanese engine manufacturers are focusing on the 50-seat regional jet market and aim to develop an indigenous engine.

The environmentally compatible engine for small aircraft (ECO) project began last year, at the same time as the Mitsubishi-led regional jet study. ECO project leader Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries (IHI) introduced at Japan Aerospace 2004 an image of a small engine 1m (3ft) in diameter with 1,600lb of take-off thrust.

IHI engine technology department manager Junsuke Omi says the project team, which also includes Kawasaki and Mitsubishi, aims to achieve International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Chapter 4 noise standards and ICAO CAEP 4 emission standards. It also aims to reduce operating costs by 15% compared with the General Electric CF34-3 and Rolls-Royce AE3007 regional jet engines.

A one-year feasibility study has been completed and the project is in the first year of a six-year research and development phase. In the first three years, element technology will be developed and in the second three years a prototype engine will be tested.

Omi says that IHI aims to deliver the first engine in about six years and will later seek to partner either GE or R-R to help market the powerplant. Japan's three engine manufacturers now build only components for commercial engines and have no experience of airline sales.

Source: Flight International