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Supply chain opportunities for UHBR engines

A new roadmap for UHBR engines has been developed by the ATI's Working Group.

By ATI Comms

20 May 2021 02:00:PM
Read time: 4 mins

As part of the ATI’s Working Group dedicated to large Ultra-High Bypass Ratio (UHBR) turbofan engines, we have been focusing on developing the ATI’s Propulsion & Power Technology Roadmap to explore relevant supply chain opportunities for future UHBR engines. Even with the industry looking at new types of propulsion systems, utilising electric motors and different energy storage mechanisms, gas turbine-based technology will continue to play a major role in the market, particularly on longer duration flights and larger platforms. UHBR engines of the future will be able to utilise a range of sustainable fuels, including biofuels and synthetic fuels, as a well as possible hydrogen combustion capabilities, ensuring they minimise harmful emissions. Many engine manufacturers are considering the scalability of UHBR engine designs and are looking to apply these across different platforms, demonstrating the significant value for supply chain to win work on future engine types.

The opportunities

UHBR engines represent a generational architectural change and therefore offer many new opportunities from a technology perspective. Installation of larger fan systems at the front of the engine, relative to the size of the core, results in improved fuel consumption characteristics and an overall increase in the propulsive efficiency of the engine. These fans will require new lightweight, multifunctional structures and materials, in parallel with optimisations to the engine core help to improve engine thermodynamic efficiency and fuel burn characteristics. Moving towards UHBR engines does however come with technical challenges such as overall physical engine size, weight and weight distributions, packaging, integration of the powerplant and nacelle, mounting solutions, and overall maintenance suitability and reparability.

The primary technology challenges for future UHBR engines include:

  • Higher temperature engine cores, requiring novel materials and advanced cooling mechanisms
  • Lightweighting of primary and secondary engine structures, using novel composite materials and near net shape production techniques
  • New power transmission systems, including advanced gearing systems able to handle high power and speed throughputs
  • External systems packaged closer to the engine core, in hotter and more extreme environments
  • Short, slimline nacelle structure and compact nacelle systems with optimised aero and acoustic performance
  • Increasing the use of multi-functional and modular structures and systems for enhanced performance, maintainability and assembly optimisations
  • The ability to provide greater on-wing repair capability, including enhanced health management systems and inspection processes
  • Smart, scalable and adaptable manufacturing and assembly systems for all engine components and systems

A new roadmap for UHBR engines

With this information in mind, the Working Group have identified the primary technology opportunities for the supply chain against each technology area identified in the existing ATI roadmap, and referenced the relevant products and systems within this, as well as the primary drivers for development. The roadmap and technology opportunities can be found here, or by clicking on the image below.

 

Next steps

Following these updates to the roadmap, the Working Group will next be looking at common technologies across these roadmaps and seeking to identify potential programmes to address these topics. If you think you have a capability that could align to the needs identified in these roadmaps, then do get in touch with us here at the ATI and we will be happy to discuss what opportunities may exist.