Aircraft

GE unveils new supersonic commercial jet engine

GE Aviation engineers have unveiled Affinity, a new family of supersonic jet engines for civilian aircraft
GE Aviation engineers have unveiled Affinity, a new family of supersonic jet engines for civilian aircraft
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The Affinity engine is designed to fly in the Aerion AS2 supersonic business jet
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The Affinity engine is designed to fly in the Aerion AS2 supersonic business jet
GE Aviation engineers have unveiled Affinity, a new family of supersonic jet engines for civilian aircraft
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GE Aviation engineers have unveiled Affinity, a new family of supersonic jet engines for civilian aircraft

GE Aviation has given impetus to the revival of civilian supersonic flight by revealing a new family of engines designed to fly faster than the speed of sound. Called the Affinity, the new engine will be incorporated into the Aerion AS2 supersonic business jet, which is being developed in partnership with Lockheed Martin, GE Aviation and Honeywell, and could cut the time of a transatlantic flight by three hours.

Since the retirement of Concorde, supersonic passenger flight has become something of a lost art, but new initiatives by NASA and various companies promise a renaissance as new technologies tackle the problems of cost, fuel efficiency, and noise.

Key to this it the development of new engines that can do a better job than the old Rolls-Royce/Snecma Olympus 593 that hurled Concorde through the sky at over Mach 2 (1,535 mph, 2,470 km/h). GE claims that the Affinity, which is based on the company's supersonic fighter jet experience and lessons learned from building engines for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, will be up to the job.

The Affinity engine is designed to fly in the Aerion AS2 supersonic business jet
The Affinity engine is designed to fly in the Aerion AS2 supersonic business jet

GE isn't giving out any details at the moment, but it says that the new family of engines will operate at up to 60,000 ft (18,000 m) and be able to meet the new noise requirements currently under revision by various air authorities, so it will be able to fly subsonic over land as well as supersonic over water.

To do this, it will use Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC), which is a computer system capable of overseeing all aspects of engine operations without the need for manual override. In addition, the new engines will work with Aerion's natural laminar flow concept, which uses a modestly swept leading edge on the wing and a new fuselage design to reduce air drag over the wing by up to 60 percent, and overall drag by 20 percent.

Aerion says that this will not only reduce operating costs, but appreciably increase the aircraft's range.

The AS2 is scheduled to make its first flight in 2023 and is aiming for certification in 2025.

GE's promo video for the new Affinity engine is below.

Source: GE Aviation

GE’s Affinity™ launching a new era of efficient supersonic flight

8 comments
guzmanchinky
Wasn't GE just on the verge of bankruptcy? But they do make amazing aircraft engines.
Derek Howe
Guzman- no, that was just its mortgage lending company. GE as a whole, is far from bankruptcy.
davidmhoffman
Concorde routinely did Mach 2.01 cruise.
davidmhoffman
The goal is for supersonic flight over both land and oceans. The aircraft will probably travel at only 67% of the cruise speed Concorde did. It will probably have half the mass and passenger capacity Concorde did. Combine thise with an overall shape designed to create a milder overpressure shockwave and supersonic cruise over almost the entire trip may be possible.
Paul Stregevsky
FADEC is nothing new: I was editing FADEC R&D reports as a technical report editor at GE Aircraft Engine Group in the late 1970s. I believe that GE began using FADEC on its F101 Derivative Fighter Engine (DFE) and F404 engine, both for the U.S. Navy, by the mid 1980s. When I was laid off from GE, in 1981, you know who else they laid off? A British-born engineer who had codeveloped/copatented the SST engine's variable-stator vanes.
EZ
I wonder whose money paid for this new technology? G.E.'s or one of the federal research labs. Being developed in partnership with Lockheed Martin, GE Aviation and Honeywell suggests to me that our taxpayer dollars are definitely being used--by the "business class?" Lockheed Martin is under the NASA umbrella and constantly using our money to develop new military technology and keeping the profits.
Kalavo
Jet engines for supersonic transport just too espensive. Use of rocket motor to get higher and faster is much better and then use engines only for takeoff and landing, sounds complex but only practical way to do supersonic for large planes over big distances economically. More future proof too.
JimFox
Suspect this is more 'transonic' than supersonic; whatever, problems of s/s flight are far more than just propulsion. Cost will always be the governing factor both in maintenance and running costs because s/s aircraft will never be carrying 300+ passengers...
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