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Contract documents reveal plans for Russia's new widebody engine

A newly-signed contract discloses key details of Russia’s design goals for the country’s first high-bypass gas turbine engine in the 75,000lb-thrust power class launched on 19 January to support the CRAIC CR929 widebody, Ilyushin Il-96-400 and several military projects.

The $1.13 billion (₽64.3 billion) contract awarded by the Russian government on 19 January calls on United Engine-Aviadvigatel to develop a demonstrator engine named the PD-35-1 by 2023 featuring several state-of-the-art technologies, including wide-chord composite fan blades and composite fan case, ceramic matrix composites and advanced cooling systems.

The PD-35-1 also will be designed with a compressor pressure ratio measuring 23:1, the contract documents posted on the Russian government’s procurement agency says. That falls a step below the 27:1 ratio planned for the high-pressure compressor section of the GE Aviation GE9X engine now in development testing for the Boeing 777X.

But the documents still reveal a plan for Russian industry to make dramatic progress over the next decade. Building on the advanced metallics now in testing in the 28,000lb-thrust PD-14 turbofan, the PD-35-1 will drive Russia to introduce composite materials pioneered by GE over the last 15 years. The Aviadvigatel PD-14 is Russia’s homegrown alternative to the Pratt & Whitney PW1400G on the Irkut MC-21 narrowbody.

In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Russia’s deputy prime minister for defence and space industries Dmitry Rogozin notes that the Soviet Union never produced a turbofan engine over 70,000lb-thrust and the PD-35-1 will become the first in the region’s history.

“We really need it,” he says.

Russia and China have teamed up to develop the CR929 under the CRAIC joint venture between Comac and United Aircraft. CRAIC is expected to select an engine made by GE or R-R to introduce the CR929 into commercial service by the end of the next decade. Separately, China and Russia each plan to develop indigenously-sourced alternatives to the Western powerplants for the CR929. The PD-35-1 also would be used to power several Russian air force development projects, including the Il-476 airlifter, Il-478 tanker and a long-term effort to replace the Antonov An-124.

Mimicking the structural configuration of the Boeing 787’s GEnx-1B engines, the PD-35-1 engine will be designed with wide-chord composite fan blades and a composite, the contract documents show. The documents don’t specify if Russian industry plans to use a similar process as GE’s 3D woven composite materials.

The turbine of the PD-35-1 will be exposed to temperatures as high as 1,450°C (2,640°F), exceeding the melting point of most advanced metal alloys. To help the turbine survive, the contract documents say Aviadvigatel must integrate exotic new materials and advanced cooling systems. Two types of ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) – silicon carbide-silicon carbide (SiC-SiC) and carbon-silicon carbide (C-SiC) will be used in the PD-35-1 demonstrator engine, the contract documents say. GE pioneered the use of CMCs in the Leap-1 series of engines that it produces with Safran under the CFM International joint venture.

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