What type of aircraft will be flying the skies in the near future?
Boeing’s latest survey showed that the number of aircraft deployed all over the world will double in the next 20 years. This will naturally result in an expected increase in the demand for aircraft engines.
Aircraft Engine Manufacturing Criteria
This should be a good forecast for engine manufacturers, if they are not faced with some challenges including the restricting environmental standards. In the future, aircraft engines will be designed following three main criteria:
- Lower fuel consumption levels caused by increased cost pressures and market competition
- Reduced emissions caused by tougher regulations on environment
- Lower purchase and maintenance costs
The design of the different compression stages of the engine will dictate the fuel consumption and emission levels while the cost of purchase and maintenance will depend on the aerodynamic design of the individual blades which has to do with the compression ratio between the compression stages and the increased thermal efficiency desired.
An increase in engine efficiency results in reduced fuel consumption and lower carbon dioxide emissions. On the other hand, the high loads on the blade root are absorbed as the interface between blade root and disk disappears and the rotor is produced, resulting in an integral design for a mass-reducing construction that offers maximum economic savings.
Choice Of Material
Material choice in the past has been limited to nickel-based alloys as high operating temperatures in the high-pressure environment are taken into consideration. To counter the restrictions on temperatures and component weight, recent efforts are diverted to explore the use of alloys from titanium 6-4 sheet as a replacement for the nickel-based alloys.
Titanium Alloys Vs. Nickel-Based Alloys
Aerospace regulating bodies have approved the development of titanium alloys as safety class 1 in the rotating components sector. Unlike the nickel-based alloys, the new titanium material’s properties make it more difficult to machine. Hence, alternative production processes have been explored and tried if they satisfy economic and technological requirements for the both the new and old material. In terms of the aircraft engine production, new manufacturing processes have to be introduced in order to perfect and satisfy the blisk (blade integrated disk) components in the foreseeable future.
Next Generation Aircraft And Engines
And with the demand for next generation aircraft with a narrow-body expected to increase when it propels to the skies later this year, manufacturers of new fuel-efficient engines to power the aircraft will spike in demand as well and compliance with the three criteria above will give them the edge over other competitors using traditional aircraft manufacturing criteria.
Are there narrow-bodied aircraft already flying the skies these days?