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Variable geometry makes the adaptive engine more efficient.

GE Aviation completes Department of Defense review of adaptive engine design

GE Aviation successfully accomplished its Adaptive Engine Technology Development (AETD) Preliminary Design Review (PDR). The successful review with leaders from the US Air Force, Navy, NASA and Lockheed Martin, followed testing of the industry's first and only adaptive-cycle, three-stream engine in 2014. GE's AETD engine extends aircraft operating range by 30%, improves fuel consumption by 25% and increases thrust by more than 10%. GE's AETD engine could be ready to power the US military's most advanced combat jets by the mid-2020s.

“Since 2007, GE Aviation has successfully partnered with the Department of Defense to cost effectively design, manufacture and test this revolutionary combination of architectural, compression technology, cooling technology, and material technology advancements,” said Dan McCormick, general manager of GE Aviation's Advanced Combat Engine program. “Now that we've proved our engine's design and hardware can deliver the DoD's aggressive performance and cost reduction targets, we're ready to integrate our adaptive design into existing and next-generation combat aircraft.”

Fixed cycle engines powering today's military aircraft are limited, or “fixed,” to one capability: either maximum power or fuel efficiency, which restricts aircraft performance and increases sustainment costs. GE's AETD engine differs from fixed cycle engines in its ability to alter from a high-bypass, fuel-efficient engine deployed on tanker/transport aircraft to a low-bypass, high-performance engine needed for fighter jets. The adaptive feature is combined with an additional source of air, called a “third stream of cooled air,” that can be used to further increase thrust, improve fuel efficiency, dramatically reduce the aircraft heat load, and/or reduce heat signature.


After a joint GE/DoD investment of more than $1B in its development, GE's AETD engine is uniquely capable of meeting or exceeding DoD performance targets. It incorporates the industry's most extensive use of advanced manufacturing and heat-resistant material technologies initially developed for GE's commercial jet engines, such as ceramic matrix composites (CMC) and additive manufactured components pioneered on the best-selling LEAP and GE9X engines. These innovations – which further reduce fuel consumption, lower aircraft operating weight and increase engine durability – are required to deliver the military's aggressive performance targets with field-proven, low-cost technologies.

GE's AETD engine integrates the world's first rotating CMC parts – a set of low-pressure turbine blades successfully tested for 500 cycles at AETD-level temperatures and stresses. CMCs are able to withstand temperatures hundreds of degrees higher than conventional metals, lowering maintenance costs while improving performance in the most stressful environments found in a jet engine.

The completed PDR completes the major design milestone of GE's AETD program. Today, GE is assembling hardware for its adaptive fan, compressor, combustor and turbine rigs, culminating in an AETD core engine test (combining the compressor, combustor and turbine) in 2016. GE hopes to continue to prove its adaptive cycle design through the Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP), which could set in motion an Engineering & Manufacturing Development (EMD) leading to an engine production contract on current or next-generation military aircraft programs as soon as the mid-2020s.

Press release issued by GE Aircraft Engines on June 17, 2015


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GE Aircraft Engines Turboprop Engines, Turboshaft Engines, Turbofan Engines, Turbojet Engines


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