The Future? This Open Fan Engine Can Cut Flight Emissions By 20%

GE Aviation and Safran have launched the development of a new, open fan engine that can cut CO2 emissions by 20%. The new technology could be ready for commercial use by the mid-2030s, marking a huge change to engine design and environmental standards. Both companies have also extended their partnership with the CFM brand until 2050.

CFM Open Fan Engine Design
Could future aircraft engines look like turboprops? Photo: CFM International

Big step

In a statement today, GE Aviation and Safran announced a new engine development program known as CFM RISE. The program will work on creating futuristic engine designs that have massively cut down on carbon dioxide emissions. This in line with CFM and the industry’s goal to cut emissions by 50% by 2050.

One of the most interesting and promising designs is an open fan structure currently under development. The engines will slash CO2 emission by 20% and reimagine the current structure of jet engines. These engines will be more efficient, offer the same speed as the current generation, and offer a similar cabin experience.

CFM Open Fan Engine Design
All of these engine designs would work with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) as well, further cutting emissions. Photo: CFM International

Many might notice that the renders of these open fan engines look fairly similar to existing turboprop technology. However, they are meant to be compatible with single-aisle aircraft like the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 as well. In a statement, GE Aviation CEO John Slattery said,

“Together, through the RISE technology demonstration program, we are reinventing the future of flight, bringing an advanced suite of revolutionary technologies to market that will take the next generation of single-aisle aircraft to a new level of fuel efficiency and reduced emissions. We fully embrace the sustainability imperative. As we have always done in the past, we will deliver for the future.”

Big

Undoubtedly, the current generation of engines, such as the CFM LEAP and GE9X, are already extremely efficient. However, as climate change and emissions come into focus, the aviation industry is hoping to further cut its environmental impact. Any such radical changes will require new technology, such as the one’s GE and Safran are developing.

The first ground tests of the open fan technology are scheduled for the mid-2020s. A full rollout will take another decade at least. However, the future certainly looks promising for this engine design.

CFM Open Fan Engine Design
CFM promises impressive targets through its RISE program, including a much lower fuel burn rate. Photo: CFM International

The deployment of the open fan engine will require deeper ties with manufacturers Airbus and Boeing as well. The coming years will see this design slowly reach physical testing and actual flight. If successful, it would be the biggest leap in engine efficiency in decades and reshape the future of aviation. However, many steps remain before we can sit in an open fan-powered aircraft.

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Industry reeling

As COVID-19 continues to pummel aviation, airlines will also be looking to cut back costs in the long term. With fuel accounting for a large part of expenses, even the smallest reduction in usage can save millions. For now, keep an eye out for the CFM RISE program as it looks to shake up aviation.

What do you think about the open fan engine design? Let us know in the comments!

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