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P&W researches next generation airliner geared turbofan engines


Parent UTC to subsidise research work on next-generation engine aimed at powering future narrowbodies

Pratt & Whitney has won additional funding from its United Technologies (UTC) parent company to sustain research and development work on its geared turbofan (GTF) next-generation engine aimed at future Airbus and Boeing narrowbodies, in the wake of further reductions to NASA’s 2006 aeronautics budget.

“We have fully funded all the key technologies related to the next-generation engine, and we are working on the GTF as we see it as the best option for achieving low noise and emissions,” says P&W director advanced engines programmes Simeon Austin. The extra funding will ensure P&W can stick to its relatively aggressive schedule of ground testing a 30,000lb-thrust (133kN) geared-fan engine in 2007 in advance of possible flight tests the following year with Boeing and NASA participation.

Despite last month’s dramatic restructuring of the aeronautics research programme at NASA, Austin says the proposed GTF “is still on the roadmap, but we have increased our internal funding to take care of the shortfall”. The work “still fits under the fundamental aeronautics research rubric”, adds Austin. The revised NASA approach also involves greater collaboration between industry and the agency, with research efforts being largely funded by companies and consortia, but work undertaken using NASA facilities and engineering expertise. “We’re still discussing with NASA about using people and facilities for both rig tests and engine testing itself,” he adds. “It will also allow us to validate tools for assessing noise and emission.”

New details are meanwhile starting to emerge about initial phases of next-generation narrowbody studies under way at both Airbus and Boeing. The Airbus A320 replacement study is now believed to be dubbed the NSR, or New Short Range aircraft, and is aimed at a provisional service entry in 2012-13. The NSR study involves overall performance and operating cost targets, potential market assessments and technology candidates, improvements in fuel burn, emissions, noise and operating costs per hour. A further phase timed for later in 2006 is expected to examine industrial implications concerned with partner workshares, technology development goals and airline advisory input.

Boeing calls its 737 successor study the 737RS, or Replacement Study. Initial work on the Yellowstone 1 (Y1) project is now understood to represent just one of several possible replacement concepts. Boeing is believed to have recently accelerated the pace of the 737RS study effort and is thought to be considering making an initial pass on prospective supplier teams by mid-2006.

GUY NORRIS / LOS ANGELES

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