July 24, 2021

June 14, 2021 will be one of the major dates for aeronautics in its race to decarbonise

With the launch yesterday of a new program of medium-haul aircraft engines by CFM International, the subsidiary of Safran and General Electric, this Monday, June 14, 2021 will undoubtedly become one of the major dates in the history of the aeronautics. Those which mark the imminent arrival of a major technological leap in the race to decarbonise this sector singled out by part of the population for the CO2 emissions it generates, which are between 2 and 3% of global emissions. This Monday June 14th symbolizes this race for progress as it had been on Sunday July 15, 2008 when, at the Farnborough Airshow, near London, CFM International announced the launch of a new program of medium-haul aircraft engines. , the famous LEAP engine, successor to the illustrious CFM56 put into service in the early 1980s. At a time when a barrel of oil was close to 150 dollars, the LEAP promised a reduction in consumption of 16%. Originally intended for the successors of the Airbus 320 and the Boeing 737, it was used to re-engine the latter which were renamed A320 Neo (new engines option) and MAX.

More than 20% reduction in fuel consumption

Today, the Safran-General Electric couple goes even further. Called RISE (Revolutionary innovation for sustainable engines), this new engine program targets an even more ambitious reduction in fuel consumption of more than 20%. Scheduled for entry into service in the mid-2030s, this new engine is therefore expected to equip the future medium-haul Airbus aircraft, scheduled today for 2035. Result, with the entry into service of the LEAP engine in 2015 then that of the RISE in 2035, Safran and GE will have improved fuel consumption by more than 35%. Which will be colossal.

An engine that looks like an open rotor

This new engine will have a design that completely breaks with the architectures observed so far. It will be an engine without fairing, with the “open-air” propellers which allow a better propulsive efficiency. Visually resembling an “open rotor” (it is not called as such because it will not have two propellers counter-rotating elices), this engine will be “100% compatible with alternative energies such as sustainable aeronautical fuels and hydrogen, which are more respectful of the environment”. In other words, in addition to hydrogen if ever this source of energy were used, RISE engines will be able to run on 100% alternative fuels (without kerosene), whereas today the engines are certified for a maximum use of 50%. , the other half being made up of kerosene.

“Ultimately, it will be up to the aircraft manufacturers to decide when and how they will launch their future aircraft program and we want to be in a position to offer them the best possible options for the engines,” said Olivier, CEO of Safran.

“When we talk about a 20% reduction in consumption, it is compared to the current aviation fuel. If we were to just put sustainable fuel in this new engine, it would reduce emissions by 80% and if it was hydrogen, which is a bit of nirvana, it would reduce CO2 emissions by 100%, ”added John Slattery, CEO of GE Aviation.

Halve emissions by 2050

By combining the performance of this new engine with those that will directly affect the aircraft (in terms of weight reduction), a new aircraft in 2035 could show a reduction in consumption of more than 30%, the equivalent of ‘a jump from a generation of aircraft. With such a gain, the objective of reducing air transport emissions by 50% by 2050 compared to 2005 is considered as possible by many aeronautical professionals.