At a press conference with Aerion Corporation today, GE Aviation announced that it has completed the initial design of the first supersonic engine purpose-built for business jets. This new engine class, revealed today as GE’s AffinityTM is optimized with proven GE technology for supersonic flight and timed to meet the Aerion AS2 launch.
The Affinity is a new class of medium bypass ratio engines that provide exceptional and balanced performance across supersonic and subsonic flights. The Affinity integrates a unique blend of proven military supersonic experience, commercial reliability and the most advanced business jet engine technologies.
“In the last 50 years, business aircraft speeds have increased by less than 10 percent,” said Brad Mottier, GE Vice President and General Manager for Business and General Aviation & Integrated Services. “Instead of going faster, cabins have increased in size and become more comfortable – and range has become longer. With large, comfortable cabin, long-range aircraft in the marketplace, the next step is speed . . . made possible with GE’s Affinity.”
GE’s Affinity is a twin-shaft, twin-fan turbofan controlled by a next-generation Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) for enhanced dispatch reliability and onboard diagnostics. It is purposefully designed to enable efficient supersonic flight over water and efficient subsonic flight over land, without requiring modifications to existing compliance regulations. The engine is designed to meet stringent Stage 5 subsonic noise requirements and beat current emissions standards.
GE’s Affinity features:
- Efficient performance throughout the full flight envelope with a high-altitude service ceiling of 60,000.
- An advanced twin-fan with the highest bypass ratio of any supersonic engine
- A special, non-augmented supersonic exhaust system.
- A proven engine core adapted from GE’s commercial airline portfolio with billions of successful and reliable hours of operational service.
- A durable combustor with advanced coatings for sustained high-speed operation.
- Advanced acoustic technology designed to meet or exceed regulatory requirements.
- GE’s additive design & manufacturing technologies to optimize weight & performance.
“Our mission is to enhance global mobility with supersonic speed, starting with business aviation, and following with successively faster and larger designs for business and commercial aviation,” said Aerion CEO Tom Vice. “GE Aviation is making this new efficient, sustainable supersonic era possible through its pioneering work on the Affinity engine.”
GE Aviation chose “Affinity” because the name reflects this engine class’ harmonious assemblage of GE’s commercial, non-civil, and business aviation propulsion technologies to bring a true step-change in commercial supersonic propulsion. Its mach plus-enabling power is combined with the reliability of our best commercial engines. Going forward, this Affinity engine class represents the objective of closing the gap between now and next for both the operators and the passengers.
Aerion is also collaborating on AS2 development with Lockheed Martin and Honeywell, both participants in today’s announcement.
“Today’s announcement by GE is a huge step forward in realizing this airplane,” said David Richardson, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works’ director of air vehicle design. “For us to design a clean-sheet airplane at Skunkworks, we always start with an engine. Without an engine, you don’t have an airplane. It is the enabler really for this whole enterprise.”
After two years of a preliminary study, GE Aviation and Aerion launched a formal process in May of 2017 to define and evaluate a final engine configuration for the AS2 supersonic business jet. A GE Project team, supported by a dedicated Engineering team, continue to work with Aerion in a formal and gated process. The next design review is targeted 2020, signaling the beginning of detailed design and test article production.
GE Aviation has more than 60 years of experience in designing and building engines adapted for supersonic aircraft. Its first engine to push us into the supersonic era was the J79, which was introduced with Lockheed on their F-104 Starfighter in the mid-1950s.