Safran Aircraft Engines and French aerospace research agency ONERA (Office national d’études et de recherches aérospatiales) have started wind tunnel testing of the EcoEngine, a 1:5 scale demonstrator of CFM International’s future open fan aviation gas turbine designed to power the next generation of narrowbody airlines. The trials are taking place at ONERA’s wind tunnel facility in Modane, France.
CFM, a 50/50 joint venture between Safran Aircraft Engines and GE Aerospace, launched the RISE program to develop the open fan engine concept with the goal of reducing fuel burn and CO2 emissions by 20% compared to current models of turbofans. The technology has the potential to curb overall emissions from narrowbody airliners – the workhorses of the airline industry – by up to 80% when used in conjunction with sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).
CFM hopes to develop a commercial powerplant that would be ready to power new narrowbody airliners launched by Airbus and Boeing in the mid-2030s.
Safran Aircraft Engines and ONERA recently signed a framework agreement to cover testing of the EcoEngine demonstrator from 2024 to 2028. The new round of testing is backed by the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC) as part of an effort to validate the aerodynamic and acoustic performance of the fan module by simulating real-world airspeeds in a wind tunnel. It will also offer a proof of concept for the engine’s fan blades, which lack the nacelle typical in the traditional configuration of turbofan engines.
Safran plans to conduct over 200 hours of testing in coming years, followed by simulation tests with the engine mounted on a demonstrator plane wing section.