A380 superjumbo to test experimental open fan engine

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(CNN) — Take a closer look at the plane at the top of this story. Notice something different about one of its engines?

The Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger jet, has been recruited as a demonstrator to trial a new cutting-edge open fan engine architecture that can help reduce carbon emissions by up to 20%.

The project was unveiled Tuesday by Airbus and CFM International at the Farnborough Air Show outside London, an annual trade show showcasing the latest in aerospace innovation.

It is the latest innovation to be air-tested on the A380 “superjumbo”, which has had mixed fortunes in recent years. Production of the much-loved aircraft was halted in 2021 due to lack of demand. Existing aircraft were grounded by airlines during the pandemic, only to enjoy a recent resurgence due to demand for travel.

CFM, whose parent companies are GE and Safran Aircraft Engine, is developing advanced propulsion technology as part of its Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines (RISE) demonstration program.

The goal now is to mature and accelerate that with a flight test campaign on the A380, which is slated to take to the skies later this decade from the Airbus Flight Test Facility in Toulouse, France.

Before that happens, CFM will conduct engine ground tests and flight test validation at GE Aviation’s Flight Test Operations Center in Victorville, California.

The flight test program aims to better understand engine/wing integration and aerodynamic performance, demonstrate better fuel efficiency that will reduce CO2 emissions by a fifth compared to today’s most efficient engines, and ensure compatibility with it. 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

New propulsion technologies will play an important role in achieving aviation’s net-zero goals with new aircraft designs and sustainable energy sources, Airbus Chief Technical Officer Sabine Klauke said in a statement.

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The CFM RISE program is about pushing the envelope of technology, redefining the art of the possible and helping achieve more sustainable long-term growth for our industry,” affirmed Gale Mayhuest, president and CEO of CFM International.

Earlier this year, Airbus announced that it would conduct a test Experimental hydrogen engine on the A380 — Another partnership with CFM International — with the goal of producing zero-emission aircraft by 2035.
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