Europe's Propfan-Power Progress

This photograph may seem familiar to some of us, but it is not a windtunnel model of McDonnell Douglas's once-planned MD-91X propfan-powered airliner.

Photo: Clean Sky/Airbus

It is a model of an open-rotor-powered airliner being tested by Airbus, Snecma and DNW German-Dutch Windtunnels. One clue is the winglets - another is that the photo comes from the European Clean Sky research program's latest newsletter.

The "full-aircraft" tests are investigating installation effects on the counter-rotating open-rotor engine Snecma is developing under Clean Sky, including pylon and wing-wake interference and flow directivity effects. They follow earlier isolated-engine windtunnel tests.

Both Snecma and Rolls-Royce are developing geared open-rotor demonstrators under Clean Sky's Sustained and Green Engines (SAGE) project. Snecma's SAGE 2 demonstrator is planned for flight testing on a modified A340-600 in 2016 - almost 30 years after General Electric's GE36 Unducted Fan flew on an MD-80 (leading to the still-born MD-91X).

Concept: Clean Sky

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A Century of Aviation Week

Aviation Week & Space Technology is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. In a series of blogs, our editors highlight editorial content from the magazine's long and rich history.


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