Airbus & CFM Team Up To Launch Open-Fan Engine Architecture Testbed


Airbus has declared its commitment to help develop the next-generation fuel-efficient propulsion systems by collaborating with CFM on its open fan engine architecture. New propulsion technologies are being viewed as one of many ways to help make aviation more sustainable, and Airbus’ latest announcement is a step in that direction.

Airbus and CFM team up

On the second day of Farnborough Airshow, Airbus announced its collaboration with CFM International to flight test CFM’s cutting-edge open fan engine architecture. Using the Airbus A380 testbed aircraft, the flight test campaign will be performed in the second half of this decade from the Airbus Flight Test facility in Toulouse, France.

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Through this partnership, the European planemaker aims to mature and accelerate the development of advanced propulsion technologies as part of the Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engine (RISE) demonstration program of CFM International – a 50/50 joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines.

Sabine Klauke, Airbus Chief Technical Officer, commented,

“New propulsion technologies will play an important role in achieving aviation’s net-zero objectives, along with new aircraft designs and sustainable energy sources. By evaluating, maturing and validating open fan engine architecture using a dedicated flight test demonstrator, we are collaboratively making yet another significant contribution to the advancement of technology bricks that will enable us to reach our industry-wide decarbonization targets.”

What does it aim to achieve?

Both Airbus and CFM have extensive plans for this collaboration. Some of the objectives this program aims to achieve include enhanced understanding of engine/wing integration and aerodynamic performance as well as propulsive system efficiency gains; developing technologies through ground testing; assessment of aircraft/engine integration and aerodynamics (thrust, drag, loads); evaluation of internal and external noise levels; and ensuring compatibility with 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF).

The plan is for CFM to first perform engine ground tests, along with flight test validation at GE Aviation’s Flight Test Operations center in Victorville, California.

For the second phase of these tests, the open fan engine will be mounted under the wing of a specially configured and instrumented A380 testbed aircraft. Photo: Airbus

For the second phase of these tests, the open fan engine will be mounted under the wing of a specially configured and instrumented A380 testbed aircraft. These will be performed at the Airbus flight test facility in Toulouse, France.

Plenty of engineering preparatory work is required before the demonstration, such as determining the flight physics constraints, design, and assessments for the flight-test demonstration (FTD) engine installation.

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Airbus explains that the pylon with the engine mounts and attachment will be jointly designed for minimizing weight and vibration transmission to the cabin, as well as engine system integration. The fuselage structure affected by the propulsion system impact will also be studied.

CFM’s Rise program

CFM launched the RISE program last year, intending to contribute to the aerospace industry’s pursuit of net-zero emissions and flight. One of the most favored technological concepts from the RISE program is the idea of an open-fan engine meant to improve propulsive efficiency.

CFM launched the RISE program last year. Photo: GKN Aerospace

For the development of the open-fan conceptual engines, CFM has established a full-scaled roadmap with more than 300 different components, modules, and full-engine builds to test and mature the technologies.


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