“Consider a tree in the forest,” Winter said. “The sun is shining, and the tree is doing photosynthesis. When that happens, it is pulling CO2 out of the air. In one year on a CO2 basis, one airplane [with a Geared Turbofan] is the equivalent of having 900,000 more trees.”
Pratt & Whitney and the Raytheon Technologies Research Center are working on the next generation of fuel efficiency improvements, which include more efficient fans, improved aerodynamics and higher-temperature materials. While battery technology remains relatively immature, Pratt & Whitney and the Research Center, working with Collins Aerospace, are developing hybrid electric solutions that will yield further improvements.
“The future is bright,” Winter said.
Supporting the military’s mission
The principals of propulsion technology are the same for the military – they just serve a different mission.
“From a military perspective, propulsion is about being able to get our warfighters where they need to be, when they need to be there, and then get them safely home,” said David Stagney, senior director at GATORWORKS, which is part of Pratt & Whitney Military Engines.
That has always been the goal, dating back to Pratt & Whitney’s aircraft engines that powered the Allies’ aircraft in World War II, but times have obviously changed. The military doesn’t want to, nor can it afford, to send 400 aircraft on a single mission to accomplish one objective, as it did in World War II.
Now it wants to deploy as few as possible to accomplish a mission – and to do so with precision and minimal cost, risk and collateral damage. Another big change is that all military aircraft once had at least one person on board. That’s no longer true, and it means engineers have to reconsider the design of the military aircraft, emphasizing the integration of its component parts.
The systems on a military aircraft – electrical, propulsion, and thermal management – have to work in harmony to achieve the best possible result.