Big engine question could have 'short' answer

February 23, 2018 in Technology, Commercial

When thinking about solving complex engine designs of the future, Boeing engineers believe the answer could be short.

A company-wide team recently completed testing of a Boeing designed and built short inlet on a Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine at Rolls-Royce’s outdoor test facility at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Stennis, Mississippi. These investigations include crosswind testing of the new inlet, which helps researchers understand how well it directs air into the engine’s fans.

“A new, shorter inlet would increase fuel efficiency and help Boeing reduce cost,” said Blanca Bice, a Propulsion engineer who is helping lead the test effort.

It may also be a necessity, as next generation engine design includes bigger fans and smaller cores, which means other components like the inlet and thrust reverser must be lighter weight.

“By exploring promising technologies today, we can begin to test potential efficiency benefits while also defining future design and manufacturing processes,” said Craig Wilsey, Boeing Research & Technology program manager.

Boeing is working with several engine companies on compact nacelle technologies, including the short inlet with Rolls-Royce. A Boeing-designed and –built compact thrust reverser will also fly on a GE engine as part of the 2018 ecoDemonstrator program.

See the short inlet in action and learn more about Boeing’s strategy around compact nacelle technologies in the video.