LONDON – American Engineering Company, General Electric (GE) conducted its first ground test for its new GE Passport engine for Bombardier’s supposedly new flagship long-range business jet the Global 7500, and the recently launched 8000 series, on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for the first time.
The new state of the art GE Passport engine falls into the 17,000-19.000-lb thrust class turbofan category. The new engine was seen being tested in GE Aviation’s Peebles in Ohio for a couple of days in March.
On the test side, the engine was powered by HEFA (hydro processed esters and fatty acids) synthetic paraffinic kerosene, the most commonly used available SAF today.
GE made a statement: “Preliminary test results of the Passport engine are favourable, with the engine performing similarly to when it runs on petroleum-based jet fuel.”
The new engine, which will be flown by the new Bombardier flagship is already SAF operation ready. This also includes HEFA which is a mixture of 50% with traditional fuel jet.
Despite the success of the testing, there are limited quantities of SAF and HEFA supplies in the market today. Engine manufacturers are testing their products on such fuel so they can safely run on 100% SAF.
The manufacturers must ensure that the engine’s performance, must not be compromised when using the alternate greener fuel.
Rolls-Royce, one of GE’s main competitors conducted its first Pearl 700 lang-range business-jet engine on 100% SAF last year, which also showed promising results.
Despite stiff competition, Melvyn Heard, leader of the GE Passport programme stated: “As our testing shows, the Passport engine … can operate on approved sustainable aviation fuel today and in the future.”
“Our customers can be confident that the Passport engine can help meet their sustainability goals to reduce CO2 emissions in flight.”
To increase its competitiveness, GE is now preparing to test its Catalyst turboprop on sustainable aviation fuel produced and developed in Czechia. GE has chosen the goal of running the engine that powers Textron’s Beechcraft Denali on 100% SAF by mid-2023.
Across the border from the U.S, Pratt & Whitney Canada and ATR have previously ground- and flight-tested the PW120 turboprop on 100% SAF.
SAF has been on the top agenda for many engine manufacturers. Manufacturers are also testing this greener fuel in their larger product lineup, which also extends to the commercial airliner family.
In 2021, CFM International’s Leap 1 flew on 100% SAF on both the Airbus A319neo and Boeing 737-8. Meanwhile, Rolls Royce and Airbus jointly test flown the Trent engines on 100% SAF.
In March Pratt & Whitney ran a ground test on the GTF geared turbofan on SAF, while Safran, a French company, is testing helicopter turboshaft engines on the fuel.
GE may be developing a state of the art engine for the new flagship, but they face stiff competition in the race to become the most efficient powertrain in the market.
This new ‘space-race’ certainly has it’s own positive, as this is the race to become as sustainable as possible.