Boeing, Rolls-Royce, RUAG to investigate open-fan propulsion technology


Boeing, Rolls-Royce, RUAG Aerospace and Deharde Maschinenbau have entered into a collaborative research agreement to explore the potential of fuel-efficient open-fan (open rotor) propulsion technology for future commercial airplanes.

Using technologies and techniques contributed by each of the parties, tests of a model concept airplane with open-fan engines are planned for early in 2010 at the RUAG Low Speed Wind Tunnel in Emmen, Switzerland. A unique propulsion and measurement system is to be integrated into the model, Boeing says in a statement.
“Open-fan propulsion technology has potential for reducing specific fuel consumption significantly below current turbofans,” said Michael Friend, Boeing director of Technology in Germany.

“While Boeing has made no decisions as to the type of propulsion system or propulsion supplier for any potential future commercial airplane, this investigation will help us to better understand the interaction of open-fan propulsion with a candidate airframe concept, and how much fuel savings might be possible.”

As a global leader in technology, Rolls-Royce is providing propulsion design expertise from facilities in the UK and Germany, while Boeing is designing the integrated wind tunnel model airframe. The wind tunnel model will be manufactured by Deharde Maschinenbau of Varel, Germany. The model will utilize RUAG expertise in Counter-Rotating Open Rotor engine simulation.
“This research is an example of how we partner with technology leaders in Germany, Europe and around the world to investigate ways of reducing the environmental footprint of our next generation products,” said Lianne Stein, president of Boeing Germany.
“Rolls-Royce is delighted to be working with Boeing to investigate possible power solutions for future generations of aircraft,” said Ric Parker, director, Research and Technology at Rolls-Royce. “Open Rotor engines provide an opportunity to make a step change in efficiency for narrow body aircraft and this research will help underpin future full scale demonstration and point the way for future developments.”