As Global 7500 and Comac C919 programs progress, Nexcelle moves to production phase.

Nexcelle is celebrating its 10th anniversary as its two products – engine nacelles for the Bombardier Global 7500 business jet and the Comac C919 commercial aircraft – are approaching the end of their development phase.

The formation of the 50-50 joint venture company between Safran Nacelles and GE Aviation’s Middle River Aircraft Systems was announced at the 2008 Farnborough Airshow. Development cycles in aerospace are so long that, 10 years on, Nexcelle does not have a product in service yet. But it can claim it has innovated for the C919 and gained a position on a top-of-the market business jet.

In the joint venture, Safran leads the nacelle program for the C919, powered by CFM Leap-1Cs. The O-duct thrust reverser is the first of its kind. “The whole unit translates to produce reverse thrust,” Nexcelle president Kenneth Onderko explains. The design is said to be more efficient for braking, when deployed. During the rest of the flight, when stowed, it has no protruding part into the secondary flow path, thus improving overall fuel efficiency. It is also said to be lighter and easier to maintain than the more conventional thrust reversers that can be found on the Leap-1A and Leap-1B (on the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX, respectively).

It is controlled by an electrical thrust reverser actuation system (ETRAS) for better maintainability than hydraulic equivalents. The C919 will inaugurate the second generation of ETRAS, said to use lighter electronics than the first generation on the Airbus A380.

Nexcelle plans to deliver the nacelles for the third prototype C919 in the coming weeks.

A feature common to both of Nexcelle’s products is the anti-ice system, which uses a “directed flow nozzle concept.” The system swirls engine bleed air within the inlet lip more efficiently. The optimized three-dimensional airflow means the system needs less air for the same de-icing effectiveness, thus drawing less bleed air from the engine. The bottom line is better engine efficiency, Onderko emphasizes.

GE Aviation leads the nacelle program for the Global 7500, powered by GE’s Passport turbofans. Nacelle and engine designers worked together to “maximize the weight reduction,” says Onderko. A special focus was put on eliminating steps on the external surface, to reduce drag to a minimum. Aircraft certification is expected next month, and nacelles are currently being installed on production Global 7500s.