NASA's Langley Research Center 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.

Airbus and Boeing are each considering new-generation and highly efficient open rotor engine designs as potential candidates to succeed their A320 and 737 families of aircraft in the 2020 timeframe and beyond.

However, experiments in the 1980s with open rotor designs by several engine manufacturers revealed high noise levels to be a key impediment to bringing them 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 programme 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 traditional tube/wing and blended wing-body aircraft configurations, says NASA.

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

Source: Flight International