Airbus A380 to run CFM’s open-fan architecture in flight tests

July 21, 2022

Airbus will partner with CFM to carry out a flight test demonstrator on an Airbus A380 to validate the open-fan engine architecture (Courtesy GE)
Airbus will partner with CFM to carry out a flight test demonstrator on an Airbus A380 to validate the open-fan engine architecture (Courtesy GE)

Airbus has announced it will be participating in the RISE (Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines) Programme, launched in 2021 by CFM International, a 50-50 joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines. The technology development initiative aims to mature and demonstrate advanced technology that would serve as the foundation for the next-generation CFM engine that will reportedly use 20% less fuel and create 20% fewer emissions than the most efficient jet engine in use today and could enter service by the mid-2030s.

The RISE programme is developing an open-fan engine architecture that reduces weight and enables the fan blades to be larger and move much higher volumes of air around the engine rather than through the engine core, resulting in increased engine efficiency. As with GE’s recently developed aircraft engines, including the LEAP and GE9X jet range, the company stated that “dozens of components will be additively manufactured in the new engine”.

Since CFM announced the programme a year ago, the company has begun testing various components. Ground testing of a fully assembled engine prototype is set to begin around the middle of this decade. Flight testing will take place through the second half of the decade — on GE’s 747 flying test bed in Victorville, California, as well as the A380 flight test programme in Toulouse, France.

The aims of the flight demonstrator include gaining insights into how various wing aircraft installation options affect aerodynamic performance. Engineers will look for ways to sharpen the efficiency of the propulsive system, validate the 20% fuel efficiency gains and the improved acoustic models, and ensure compatibility with 100% sustainable aviation fuels.

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