NASA Advances Concepts for Next-gen Aircraft

sustainable aviation

Higher efficiency, less noise and fewer emissions!

Cleveland, November 7, 2017: An aviation renaissance, one focused on energy efficiency and economic impact, is on the horizon, and it’s changing how engineers look at aircraft power and design.

Although the aircraft industry continues to adopt innovative technologies, which are making current aircraft more energy efficient, there’s new interest in exploring alternative propulsion systems and energy sources. This new interest presents an opportunity to develop cutting-edge technologies that will dramatically reduce fuel usage, while opening up potential new markets and business opportunities for American companies and carriers.

“I feel we are at a tipping point in commercial aviation,” says Jim Heidmann, manager of NASA’s Advanced Air Transport Technology Project (AATT). “We are exploring and developing game-changing technologies and concepts for aircraft and propulsion systems that can dramatically improve efficiency and reduce environmental impact and accelerate the introduction of new aircraft.”

To provide better efficiency with less noise and fewer emissions, NASA is working with the aviation industry and academia to develop unique vehicle concepts that will use different fuselage shapes; longer, skinnier and more blended wings; innovative materials and components; and highly-integrated propulsion (engine) systems.

NASA aims to accelerate the final testing and validation of these advanced concepts and technologies through its New Aviation Horizons initiative. This initiative outlines the development of a series of experimental planes (X-planes), which will achieve the agency’s aircraft-level metrics for fuel consumption, emissions and noise.

The work has already begun under New Aviation Horizons as NASA is preparing to build and fly the first such X-plane – a low-boom supersonic flight demonstrator.

A turboelectric aircraft configuration is among several candidates for future subsonic transport X-planes that will prove the benefits of these advanced technologies in piloted flight within the next decade.

STARC Contrast: Smaller engines provide more power

One of the most pivotal areas of commercial aviation’s transformation centers around propulsion, and a team of engineers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland is conducting cutting-edge research into high-pressure-ratio compact gas turbine engines, low-emission combustors, electric-enhanced propulsion and boundary-layer ingesting (BLI) engines.

“We believe global competition and international certification standards will drive reduced fuel consumption and more efficient aircraft and propulsion concepts that may use cleaner forms of energy,” said Heidmann. “We also see the potential emergence of alternative modes of commercial transport, such as on-demand and flight service between rarely-traveled locations, both of which would represent new markets and potential beneficiaries of revolutionary propulsion technologies.”

Some of the key propulsion system advances the NASA Glenn team is pursuing converge in an aircraft concept study called STARC-ABL (single-aisle turboelectric aircraft with an aft [at the rear of the aircraft] boundary-layer propulsor).

The STARC-ABL concept, developed by NASA’s Jim Felder and Jason Welstead, is under consideration as one of NASA’s future X-planes. It looks similar to the proven tube-and-wing aircraft you see every day. But, unlike those aircraft, a significant amount of electrical power, approximately three megawatts, is used for turboelectric propulsion, in addition to the electrical operation of subsystems like flight controls, avionics and de-icing.

Imagine a Boeing 737, but with slightly smaller engines. Not a dramatic design departure, but STARC-ABL’s tail features a “T-tail” horizontal stabilizer configuration with a BLI ducted fan on the tail, which is driven purely by electric power derived from generators mounted to the underwing engines.

The wing-mounted engines supply 80 percent of the thrust required during takeoff and 55 percent at cruise, while the tail-mounted, all-electric BLI turbofan accounts for remaining thrust. Researchers predict a potential fuel consumption improvement of roughly 10 percent using this innovative system.

 

Next Step: Collaboration leads to solutions

While NASA is preparing for initial ground tests of a subscale STARC-ABL concept later this fall at NASA’s Electric Aircraft Testbed (NEAT) at Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, several vehicle-level development challenges remain: How to balance aerodynamic efficiency, appropriately optimize the engines and aft BLI fan, validate the BLI benefits, store energy, compensate for additional weight, and meet safety and operational requirements.

To further investigate the challenges surrounding the hybridization of commercial aircraft, NASA is looking to industry and academic expertise for solutions.

NASA recently awarded 12-month contracts to Boeing, teamed with Georgia Tech, and Liberty Works, with ES Aero, to develop preliminary single-aisle, 150-seat aircraft designs using promising electric-enhanced propulsion and vehicle configuration concepts.

“During the 12-month cycle, we’ll work with the teams to take a deep dive into their hybrid and turboelectric aircraft concepts,” said Amy Jankovsky, NASA’s AATT subproject manager. “These concepts will provide in-depth, detailed analyses of the propulsion and electrical systems, and we will recommend technology development paths for their concepts.”

The year-long study will also reveal new development approaches and any unforeseen technological hurdles, as well as any safety and flight certification challenges that could get an aircraft like STARC-ABL or other next-generation, hybrid or turboelectric aircraft concepts aloft within 20 years.

And while those proposed industry concepts could look like STARC-ABL, the real objective is to transform commercial aviation by using new propulsion technologies that meet NASA’s aircraft-level requirements of energy use, life-cycle carbon, landing-and-takeoff emissions and noise.

 

Ready for Takeoff: Development, testing, flight

Final reports from the industry study will outline hybrid-electric and conventional single-aisle aircraft concept designs, technology roadmaps for the major electrical systems and aircraft subsystems, and the evaluation of the concepts’ performance against NASA aircraft metrics.

“As we move forward, we’d like to further develop the powertrains for these and any other concepts that may prove viable by building and testing them at NEAT and other NASA facilities,” said Jankovsky. “We’ll identify key performance parameters for components such as motors, generators and power electronics, and any wind tunnel, altitude and other ground tests and flight demonstrations that are appropriate.”

Ultimately, NASA hopes to contribute to a next-generation aircraft that will substantially reduce fuel burn, noise and emissions. Many researchers feel we are only a few steps away from a major aviation revolution, and that a commercial aircraft using NASA-developed, hybrid-electric or turboelectric propulsion technology could be flying to an airport near you in the not too distant future.

Source: NASA, Glenn Research Center

CFM Leap Engine Surpassed 200,000 Flight Hours

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CFM Leap Engine: 15 percent improvement in fuel consumption and emissions

West Chester, Ohio, August 2, 2017: CFM International’s advanced LEAP engine is setting new industry standards for fuel efficiency and asset utilization as the company celebrates the one-year anniversary of its entry into commercial service.

Since the first LEAP-powered commercial flight on August 2, 2016, more than 75 LEAP-powered aircraft have entered service with a total of 15 operators on four continents.  In addition to Pegasus, AirAsia, Air India, Avianca Brazil, Azul, Citilink, easyJet, Frontier, Interjet, Nova Airlines, SAS, SriLankan, Virgin America, Vistara, and WOW air have all taken delivery of at least one LEAP-powered airplane.  Overall, this fleet has logged more than 200,000 flight hours and 100,000 flight cycles.

“The LEAP engine entry into service is the most successful in our history and has been exceptional by any measure,” said Gaël Méheust, president and CEO of CFM International, a 50/50 joint company between GE (USA) and Safran Aircraft Engines (France) and the world’s leading supplier of commercial aircraft engines.  “Our customers are thrilled with the fuel efficiency the engines is providing, as well as the world-class utilization level they are achieving with this very important asset.  Aircraft powered by the LEAP engine are flying more than 95 percent of available days.  This is simply unprecedented for a new engine.”

The LEAP is providing operators a 15 percent improvement in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared to today’s best CFM engine, along with dramatic reductions in engine noise.  All this technology is focused on providing better utilization, including CFM’s legendary reliability out of the box; greater asset availability; enhanced time on wing margins to help keep maintenance costs low; and minimized maintenance actions, all supported by sophisticated analytics that enable CFM to provide tailored, predictive maintenance over the life of the product. For more information, please visit www.cfmaeroengines.com.

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Air Lease Corporation has just finalized its order for additional CFM International LEAP-1B engine to power 12 new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, including five 737 MAX 7 and seven MAX 8 aircraft. The engine order is valued at $348 million U.S. at list price and deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2022

Source: CFM International

Air Transat to Become first North American Airbus A321LR Operator

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Long-range single-aisle variant will deliver up to 15% in fuel savings 

Toulouse, France, July 11, 2017 – Ten Airbus A321LR aircraft will be joining the fleet of Canadian airline Air Transat, making it the first North American operator of the longest-range single-aisle aircraft in the world. Air Transat will lease the aircraft through a deal with AerCap, and plans entry into service starting in 2019.

The A321LR builds on the success of the A321neo, which has captured over 80 percent of the market share with more than 1,400 orders to date. The LR option extends the aircraft’s range to up to 4,000 nautical miles and brings with it a 30-percent reduction in operating cost compared to its nearest competitor.

“This is an ideal aircraft for the North American market, and particularly for a carrier like Air Transat,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer-Customers. “It gives operators a highly efficient and affordable modern option for their transatlantic routes, and we look forward to other North American carriers following Air Transat’s example.”

The A321LR enables airlines to access new long-haul markets that were previously inaccessible with current single-aisle aircraft. With 206 passengers in a typical two-class layout, the A321LR offers the possibility for each passenger to carry up to three bags.

The A320neo family incorporates the very latest technologies, including new-generation engines and Sharklets, which together deliver at least 15 percent fuel savings at delivery and 20 percent by 2020, as well as a 50-percent noise reduction. With more than 5,100 orders received from over 90 customers since its launch in 2010, the A320neo family has captured some 60 percent share of the market.

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Source: Airbus

eTaxi: Reducing Carbon and NOx Emissions

International Association for Sustainable Aviation e.V.

Airbus and Safran offer electric taxiing system for A320 family

 

Paris, June 21, 2017: Following the completion of an extensive R&T phase, an electric taxiing solution, called “eTaxi”, has received ‘Authorization To Market’ approval by Airbus and Safran, for application on the A320 Family. Depending on the airline feedback, the actual program could subsequently be launched in the near future. eTaxi’s electric motors in the main landing gear, powered by electricity from the APU (auxiliary power unit), would allow an aircraft fitted with it to taxi without using its jet engines or requiring airport tractors or tugs.

eTaxi would provide airlines with a sustainable solution which combines savings on operating costs (including a reduction of around four percent in fuel costs, equal to several hundred thousand dollars per aircraft annually), independent movement on the ground (saving around two minutes of time on pushback), as well as ecological advantages such reduced carbon (CO2)and NOx emissions, and less noise during taxiing.

Source: Airbus

DLR and Embraer Agree on Cooperation in Aviation Research

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Wide range of topics includes reducing noise and emissions

Paris, France, June 21: The Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer and the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt; DLR) have signed an agreement to expand their research collaboration in the aeronautics sector. The partners will work together on a wide range of topics, including reducing noise and emissions, improving the aerodynamic and aeroelastic performance of aircraft, and many aspects of lightweight aircraft construction using fibre-reinforced polymers and integrated adaptronic systems.

The agreement was announced during the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget during a meeting between Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the DLR Executive Board, Rolf Henke, DLR Executive Board Member responsible for aeronautics research, and Daniel Moczydlower, Vice-president for Technology Development at Embraer.

“We are increasingly seeking to combine DLR’s research expertise with strong partners from science and industry in international cooperation,” says Henke. “We are therefore very pleased to now embark on this joint path in aeronautics research with Embraer.”

“Embraer fosters innovation through the collaboration with several research initiatives around the globe, including dozens of universities, research centers and industry partners”, says Moczydlower. “In order to make more progress, we are extending our partnership with DLR in an unprecedented way, due to its recognized excellence on aeronautics research.”

As the first concrete steps of the collaboration, the two partners are planning to start a research project in flight dynamics in the second half of 2017.

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Rolf Henke, DLR Executive Board member responsible for aeronautics research (left), and Daniel Moczydlower, Vice-president for Technology Development at Embraer, exchanging an agreement to expand their research collaboration

Source: Embraer

Airbus Delivers First Ever A321neo to Virgin America

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CFM engines boost fuel efficiency by at least 15%

Hamburg, Germany, April 20, 2017: Airbus has delivered the first-ever A321neo. The latest generation aircraft powered by CFM International’s LEAP-1A engines was handed over to U.S. airline Virgin America, an all-Airbus operator, at a ceremony in Hamburg, Germany.

“After Virgin America having been the first customer signing for the A320neo back in December 2010, we are today delighted to deliver the first A321neo to them,” said Fabrice Brégier, Airbus Chief Operating Officer and President Commercial Aircraft. “With our largest, latest, most fuel efficient NEO Single Aisle aircraft we are turning a new page. The new A321neo powered by next generation CFM LEAP-1A engines guarantees new levels of efficiency and longer range to its operators, greater comfort to the flying public and less emissions and noise to the airport communities. Thanks to its cutting edge technologies it is today the most eco-sensitive Single Aisle aircraft available.”

The A320neo significantly reduces noise levels, generating only half the noise footprint compared to previous generation aircraft. Equipped with fuel-saving Sharklet wingtip devices nitrous oxide (NOX) emissions are 50 percent below regulatory requirements as outlined by the Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP). In addition, the aircraft with LEAP-1A engines is proven to deliver at least a 15% fuel savings compared to Virgin America’s current generation aircraft, which is equivalent to cutting 5,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions with each plane every year.

“We have been with Virgin America from the beginning and we are excited to launch this new chapter in that relationship,” said Gael Meheust, President and CEO of CFM International. “The LEAP-1A has done extremely well in its first months of commercial service. It is proving unprecedented levels of fuel efficiency and environmental responsibility while maintaining the level of reliability Virgin America has come to expect from CFM. We think they will be very pleased with all this engine has to offer.”

The A321neo is the largest member of the A320neo Family. It covers the entire market, from high density to long-range thin routes. There are currently over 1,300 units on order.

“We are honored to be the first operator of this high in-demand aircraft,” said Virgin America President Peter Hunt, speaking at the ceremony attended by Virgin America teammates, Executives from Airbus, CFM and the aircraft lessor GECAS. “The new A321neo – the third member of the Airbus A320 Family to join our Virgin America fleet – will allow us to further reduce our unit costs and enable us to further reduce our carbon emissions.”

“Increased operational efficiency, productivity, and state-of-the-art technology — this winning combination makes the A321neo an attractive investment for leasing companies like GECAS who are committed to meeting customers’ operational needs while providing the latest technology and a solid return on investment,” said Alec Burger, President and CEO at GECAS.  “The low operating costs and reliability of the LEAP powered A320neo Family make it a strong asset in GECAS’ portfolio.”

The new A321neo will become the largest aircraft in Virgin America’s fleet, featuring 185 seats – a 24 percent higher capacity at same comfort levels than its current A320s. The aircraft is expected to enter service on May 31, 2017 with its inaugural flight from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). Virgin America currently operates a fleet of 63 Airbus A320 family aircraft comprised of A319ceo and A320ceo aircraft powered by CFM’s CFM56-5B engines.

As first announced in April 2016, Virgin America was acquired by Alaska Air Group in December 2016.

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Source: Airbus

Pratt & Whitney Partners with NASA to Create Green Future for Aviation

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Working on engines producing up to 75% fewer emissions

East Hartford, CT, February 23, 2017:  Pratt & Whitney has been chosen by NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate to be a part of NASA’s Ultra-High Bypass Advanced Nacelle Technologies Flight Demonstration. The goal of the partnership is to develop engines for commercial airliners that produce less pollution and are more fuel-efficient.
This is not the first time that Pratt & Whitney has worked with NASA to advance green engine technologies. The two organizations partnered a number of times during the 1990s and 2000s, and together, they have made significant advancements in fuel-efficient technologies. A project in the 1990s through NASA’s Advanced Subsonic Technology program led to the development of base technology for fuel-efficient fans. Another partnership in 2005 through the Space Act Agreement gave Pratt & Whitney access to NASA expertise and facilities for engine testing.
The most notable result of the P&W-NASA partnership is the development of technology for the PurePower® Geared Turbofan™ (GTF) family of engines. The GTF engine improves efficiency by over 16 percent and increases fuel savings while dramatically reducing noiseby 50 percent, a profound advancement for the aeronautics industry. The success of the partnership between the two organizations, particularly the development of technology for the GTF, has created even more opportunities for collaboration.
Pratt & Whitney is currently working with NASA on the ‘New Aviation Horizons’ initiative, through which a new generation of revolutionary “X-planes” featuring advanced technologies will be designed, built and tested over a 10-year period.
Pratt & Whitney engines are included on four out of five of the experimental aircraft designs. According to NASA, the project aims “to develop aircraft that use 50 percent less fuel, produce 75 percent fewer emissions, and are notably more quiet than today’s vehicles.” Pratt & Whitney is making large contributions to this initiative that aims to have futuristic aircrafts in the sky as soon as the 2020s.
With the new three-year Ultra-High Bypass Advanced Nacelle Technologies partnership, Pratt & Whitney, UTC Aerospace Systems and Boeing will look to build on the innovations of the past, and develop the physics for a new generation of GTF engines that will be even more efficient and quiet. With technologies based on the learning developed through this partnership, the goal is to improve efficiency by another 10 percent above the 16 percent efficiency improvement from the first generation GTF engines. 
“The goal is to build on the legacy of our partnership with NASA to work on improving our geared turbofan engine technologies,” said Michael Winter, senior fellow, Advanced Technologies, Pratt & Whitney. “Our work with NASA will help us extend the technology and move deeper into the design space.”
This partnership will likely have a large impact on the future of our world. With new advancements from this partnership, we may see the environmental cost of air transport reduced as a result of increased fuel savings, or home and business owners near airports no longer negatively affected by the constant roar of airplanes overhead.
“This partnership is not only good for our business, but for the planet,” Winter said. “Our ability to technically differentiate our products while also doing good for our world defines the legacy we leave. As engineers, what more could we hope for?” 
Source: Pratt & Whitney

Schiphol: International Award for Noise-Reducing Park 

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Reducing ground noise by ground ridge expansion

Amsterdam, Schiphol, March 1, 2017: H+N+S Landschapsarchitecten and Royal Schiphol Group are the winners of the Jay Hollingsworth Speas Airport Award for the new Buitenschot Land Art Park, located next to Amsterdam’s airport.  The award is co-sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Association of Airport Executives and the Airport Consultants Council.

The Buitenschot Land Art Park is situated north of the community of Hoofddorp and south of Schiphol’s 18R-36L runway. The park features low hills – ‘ground ridges’ – that reduce the ground noise produced by aircraft taking off, which in turn lowers the level of noise disturbance in Hoofddorp.

Ground noise is the low-frequency noise emitted by aircraft during take-off. The ridges in the park serve as sound barriers. Thanks to these ground ridges, Schiphol has reduced ground noise by 5.5 dB.

Schiphol is still working on initiatives to further reduce noise. For example by discouraging noisy aircraft and through additional ground ridges that were constructed recently.

noise reduction - sustainable aviation

In addition to reducing aircraft ground noise, Buitenschot also serves as a recreational park and is open to everyone. Also art plays a major role in the park

Source: Schiphol Airport

Lufthansa Welcomes its Fifth Airbus A320neo

Convincing results in fuel efficiency and noise emissions

Hamburg, December 29, 2016:  Lufthansa took delivery of another AirbusA320neo from Airbus. This means that, five aircraft of this model have been delivered to Lufthansa this year, as planned. The Transfer of Title of the new aircraft – with the registration D-AINE – took place at Airbus  in Hamburg-Finkenwerder. Transfer of the aircraft to the ‘home base’ in Frankfurt is scheduled for  January 2, 2017. An additional ten A320neo aircraft are to be delivered to Lufthansa in 2017.

Lufthansa is the first customer for this new generation Airbus A320neo. These new aircraft have been in service since the beginning of 2016 on routes within Germany as well as on inner-European routes. Through new technology engine design and the latest cabin layout with up to 180 seats, the A320neo is, in fact, around 20 percent cheaper to run per passenger. Another important feature of the A320neo is the significant reduction in both noise and CO2 emissions. The 85 decibel ‘noise footprint’ of an A320neo at take-off is only half as large as of an A320 in the existing fleet, making an important contribution towards active noise reduction. The Lufthansa Group has a total of 116 neo-type aircraft on order, 45 of them in the larger A321neo model.

Lufthansa Welcomes its Fifth Airbus A320neo

Source: Lufthansa

Pratt & Whitney’s GTF Engines Power HK Express Milestone Flight

East Hartford, Connecticut, December 21, 2016: Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower Geared Turbofan engines have powered HK Express‘ first Airbus A320neo revenue service flight. The HK Express flight flew from Hong Kong to Osaka, Japan, on December 12. 

“Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower engines have performed superbly throughout the introduction of our first A320neo into service,” said Andrew Cowen, CEO of HK Express. “We are confident that this highly efficient aircraft will support the growth of our business, benefiting our passengers and enhancing our sustainability.”

“The revolutionary technology of the PurePower GTF engine is transforming aviation by helping airlines to deliver lower costs and more sustainable operations,” said Rick Deurloo, senior vice president, Commercial Engine Sales, Marketing and Customer Service.

The Pratt & Whitney PurePower family has more than 80 customers, for both announced and unannounced firm and option orders, from more than 30 countries. In-service performance of the PurePower engine has demonstrated its ability to reduce fuel burn by 16 percent, regulated emissions by 50 percent and noise foot print by 75 percent, compared to 737-800 engines.

Hong Kong Express

Source: Pratt & Whitney

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