Engines that Power Narrowbody Planes

Boeing estimates that this year, 29,530 new airplanes will be needed in the single-aisle segment, an increase of almost five per cent over last year

Issue: 7 / 2017By R. ChandrakanthPhoto(s): By Airbus
Powering Tomorrow: (left) WOW air took delivery of its first Airbus A321neo aircraft pow ered by CFM International’s LEAP-1A engine at the Paris Air Show ; (right) Spirit Airlines A320neo powered by Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1100G-JM engine.

As more and more people take to the skies, thanks to the increased purchasing power of the middle class and to userfriendly policies that are been pursued by governments, the aviation sector is witnessing a huge demand for planes. Airframers are forecasting huge numbers and single-aisle or narrow-body planes are the darling of airline companies as they help them in viability. “The market is especially hungry for single-aisle airplanes as more people start traveling by air,” the Vice President of Marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Randy Tinseth has said.

Yes the world is hungry for single-aisle planes and Boeing has forecast that the world will need 41,039 new airplanes over the next 20 years. That is 3.6 per cent increase over the company’s forecast last year. The value of the orders is calculated at $6.1 trillion. Boeing said the single-aisle segment will be fueled by low-cost carriers and emerging markets. It estimates that this year, 29,530 new airplanes will be needed in the single-aisle segment, an increase of almost five per cent over last year. With such high demand for single-aisle planes, the engine manufacturers are gung-ho about the ever-expanding opportunities. Single-aisle planes such as Boeing’s 737 and the Airbus A320 are in demand because they have the efficiency and versatility that allow airlines to fly the planes profitably on a growing number of routes.

Single-aisle or narrow-body aircraft are those which permit up to six-abreast seating in a cabin under four metres wide. The highest seating capacity of a narrow-body aircraft is 295 passengers in the Boeing 757-300, while wide-body aircraft can accommodate between 250 and 600 passengers. The Airbus A320 family, the Boeing 737 and 737 Max are the most popular single-aisle aircraft. And powering these aircraft are engines such as the Safran-GE combination of CFM56 and LEAP and Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower 1000G. Efforts are on by Rolls-Royce to tap the single-aisle segment which it had abandoned some years ago.

CFM56 Setting Standards

The CFM56 engine set the standard for single-aisle commercial jet engines. Owing its success to its exceptional reliability and performance, CFM56 was built on over four decades of experience and technological excellence. With over 30,000 engines delivered to date, it powers airliners of over 550 operators worldwide. In 2007, Tech Insertion became the production configuration for all CFM56-5B engines, further providing operators with significant improvements in fuel consumption, emissions levels and maintenance costs.

The CFM56-5B is the engine of choice for the A320 family, having been selected to power nearly 60 per cent of the aircraft ordered. It is the only engine that can power every model of the A320 family with one bill of materials. The engine’s broadbased market acceptance is due to its simple, rugged architecture, which gives it the highest reliability, durability and reparability in its class.

Powering the Boeing 737 NG Family

The CFM56-7B is also the exclusive engine for the Boeing Next-Generation single-aisle airliner. Today, over 8,000 CFM56-7B engines are in service on 737 aircraft, making it the most popular engine-aircraft combination in commercial aviation. The engine’s broad-based market acceptance has been because of its simple, rugged architecture which gives it the highest reliability, durability and reparability in its class.

LEAP Engine – A Game Changer

Also from the stables of CFM International (a joint venture company of Safran and GE), LEAP which is the acronym of Leading Edge Aviation Propulsion, delivers a 15 per cent improvement in fuel consumption, compared to today’s best CFM56 engines and maintains the same level of dispatch reliability and lifecycle maintenance costs. Leveraging the successes and unrivaled experience of the CFM56 programme, the LEAP engine is built for 99.98 per cent dispatch reliability – which means more time in the air and less on the ground for maintenance.

The LEAP engine’s fan blades are manufactured from 3D woven RTM (Resin Transfer Molding) carbon fiber composite, an industry first for CFM. This technology results in fan blades that are not only lightweight but so durable that each individual blade is strong enough to support the weight of a wide-body airplane like the Airbus A350 or Boeing 787.

On its way to engine certification, CFM pushed its LEAP test programme to the limit. To meet the performance and reliability expectations made to its customers, a total of 60 LEAP engines were built to execute the most extensive ground and flight test certification programme in the company’s history. To date, the LEAP-1A, LEAP-1B and LEAP-1C engines have all been jointly certified by EASA and FAA.

Purepower in Stiff Competition

Pratt & Whitney PW1000G is a high-bypass Geared Turbofan Engine family, currently selected as the exclusive engine for the Bombardier CSeries, Mitsubishi Regional Jet, and Embraer’s next generation E-Jets E2 and as an option on the Irkut MC-21 and Airbus A320neo. The PW1000G engine first entered service in January 2016 with Lufthansa’s first commercial Airbus A320neo flight.

With 20 years of research and development, component rig testing on all major modules, extensive ground and flight testing underway, two engines in the family certified and the PW1100G-JM carrying passengers on a daily basis, the Pure-Power PW1000G engine with Geared Turbofan technology delivers game-changing reduction in fuel burn, environmental emissions, engine noise and operating costs.

In the PurePower PW1000G engine family, a state-of-the-art gear system separates the engine fan from the low pressure compressor and turbine, allowing each of the modules to operate at their optimum speeds. This enables the fan to rotate slower and while the low pressure compressor and turbine operate at a high speed, increasing engine efficiency and delivering significantly lower fuel consumption, emissions and noise. This increased efficiency also translates to fewer engine stages and parts for lower weight and reduced maintenance costs.

The PurePower PW1000G engine’s fan-drive gear system is just one component of this next-generation engine. The PurePower PW1000G engine also incorporates advances in aerodynamics, lightweight materials and other major technology improvements in the high-pressure spool, low-pressure turbine, combustor, controls, engine health monitoring and more.

Pratt & Whitney has been actively testing all key components of the PurePower PW1000G engine family, with 16 technology rigs running around the world. In 2008, Pratt & Whitney’s fullscale demonstrator engine completed its rigorous 400-hour ground and flight test programme with test results that indicated the engine delivers the performance and efficiency targets of this revolutionary technology.

The PW1100G-JM engine for Airbus A320neo family of aircraft and the PW1500G engine for the Bombardier CSeries are certified. The PW1400G-JM engine for the Irkut MC-21 aircraft, the PW1200G engine for the Mitsubishi Regional Jet and the PW1900G for the Embraer E190-E2 are all in the testing phase. The PW1100G-JM began powering revenue flights in January 2016.

Rolls-Royce to Re-Enter Single-Aisle Market?

There are reports that Rolls-Royce is making efforts to reenter the single-aisle market with Boeing. Rolls-Royce quit that segment in 2011. According to media reports quoting Chief Executive Officer Warren East, Rolls-Royce is preparing a pitch to Boeing for a middle-of-market plane. “The answer is that we are pursuing it,” East told shareholders in Derby, England. “It’s not ‘will we be pursuing it.’ We are pursuing it.” The engine would be available by 2025 when the Boeing jet is slated to enter service, he said.

Rolls-Royce is presently very strong in the long-haul engine sector with its Trent engine series being a hit among operators. The engine being designed for the Boeing jet draws on the two main technology programmes underway at Rolls-Royce, according to Paul Stein, the company’s Chief Technology Officer. Those are the Advance Engine cCore due to be built by 2020, and the UltraFan design featuring a new ‘power gearbox’ and targeting a 25 per cent efficiency improvement over current Rolls-Royce models.

However, there is no clarity on whether Rolls-Royce will partner with someone or go alone on the project as and when it happens. Rolls-Royce previously had a 33 per cent stake in the International Aero Engines AG pact with Pratt & Whitney, giving it a major presence in the short-haul market. It exited in 2011, partly because of a disagreement over future technology for the segment with Pratt pushing its geared-turbofan development for the A320neo and 737 Max upgrades.