Playing a key role in aviation’s push to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050, CFM International’s Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines (RISE) program — which is developing open-fan architecture for the industry’s next-generation engines — remains on track to start ground and flight tests in the middle of this decade, GE Aerospace, part of the CFM joint venture with Safran Aircraft Engines, confirms to Runway Girl Network.
Launched in 2021, the RISE program aims to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by more than 20 percent compared to today’s engines, as well as ensure compatibility with alternative energy sources like Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) and hydrogen to provide further sustainability benefits.
Central to the program, the open-fan architecture — also known as an “unducted fan” which is being matured as part of RISE — is expected to serve as the foundation for the next generation CFM engine that could be available by the mid-2030s.
Work is well underway. With more than 100 tests on CFM RISE already completed, a GE Aerospace spokeswoman told RGN in advance of the New Year that: “This puts the program on track for ground and flight tests in the middle of this decade.”
“We currently have our most comprehensive testing roadmap in GE Aerospace’s history to support the program,” she added. “Testing to date has helped validate the novel open fan architecture for greater propulsive efficiency, with early results showing positive noise level performance.
“We’ve also completed our first full engine run with next-generation high pressure turbine blades and nozzles to demonstrate advanced cooling technology.”
Airbus is collaborating with CFM to flight-test the open-fan engine on board its A380 testbed aircraft, and reckons that those tests will be performed in the second half of this decade from the Airbus Flight Test facility in Toulouse, France. In advance, flight test validation will occur at GE Aviation’s Flight Test Operations centre in Victorville, California.
Having chosen hydrogen as its preferred technology for the next generation of aircraft power, Airbus is — at the same time — studying various new aircraft concepts including in the regional to small airliner category as part of its “ZEROe” zero-emissions program. That program will also see Airbus test a direct hydrogen combustion engine aboard its A380 testbed, with a planned first flight date by the end of 2026.
CFM, meanwhile, believes the open fan concept is currently the most efficient and sustainable option to improve engine propulsive efficiency.
“The advanced open fan architecture to be demonstrated as part of the RISE program will fly at the same speed as current single-aisle aircraft (up to Mach 0.8, or 80% the speed of sound) with a noise signature that will meet anticipated future regulations,” assures the engine JV, which believes hybrid electric technologies will allow engine performance to be optimized.
Safran Aircraft Engines is also coordinating the demonstration of open fan engine technologies within the frame of an EU-funded clean aviation initiative, which boasts a consortium of European partners including Airbus.
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Featured image credited to CFM International