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the future of flight

Industry Collaboration

Leading the industry to achieve net zero CO2 flight emissions

GE Aerospace fully supports aviation industry efforts to decarbonize, which requires a holistic, global approach. Meeting the industry’s goal of net-zero CO2 emissions from flight by 2050 requires deploying revolutionary technologies to reduce emissions and to advocate for increased use and availability of alternative fuels, such as Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and hydrogen.

Air Transport Action Group declares net-zero CO2 goal

Members of Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), including GE Aerospace, adopted in October 2021 a long-term climate goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, confirming the aviation industry’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions in support of the Paris Agreement 1.5ºC goal. This follows an earlier industry goal set in 2009.

Meeting the long-term net-zero goal requires the industry to deploy revolutionary technologies to reduce emissions and to advocate for increased use and availability of alternative fuels, such as Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and hydrogen.

To address this challenge, GE Aerospace has embarked on multiple engine technology demonstrators to accelerate emissions-lowering technologies for aircraft propulsion. Two examples announced in 2021 include the CFM RISE* (Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines) Program in partnership with Safran Aircraft Engines and the Electrified Powertrain Flight Demonstration project with NASA. Additionally, GE has been actively involved in assessing and qualifying SAF since 2007 and works closely with SAF producers, regulators, and operators to ensure that SAF can be widely adopted for use in aviation.

The CFM RISE Program

In June 2021, GE Aerospace and Safran launched a bold technology development program. The CFM RISE (Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines) Program will demonstrate and mature a range of new, disruptive technologies for future engines that could enter service in by the mid-2030s.

The program goals include reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by more than 20 percent compared to today’s most efficient engines, as well as ensuring 100 percent compatibility with alternative energy sources such as Sustainable Aviation Fuels and hydrogen.

Central to the program is achieving state-of-the-art propulsive efficiency for the engine, including developing an open fan architecture that is a key enabler to achieving significantly improved fuel efficiency while delivering the same speed and cabin experience as current single-aisle aircraft. The program will also use hybrid electric capability to optimize engine efficiency while enabling electrification of many aircraft systems.

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United Flies World’s First Passenger Flight using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel

From the outside, there was nothing unusual about the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet operated by United Airlines that flew from Chicago’s O’Hare to Washington’s Reagan National Airport with 115 people on board on December 1, 2021. But the plane made history. It was the first commercial flight with passengers on board to use 100% drop-in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for one of the aircraft’s two engines.

The jet used a pair of LEAP-1B engines developed by CFM International, a 50-50 joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines. GE Aerospace has also been researching the use of SAF in its engines.

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GE Aerospace and NASA programs to advance the future of flight

GE Aerospace and NASA have joined together in a new research program announced in 2021 aiming to demonstrate flight readiness of hybrid electric propulsion technology for single-aisle aircraft. For the NASA Electrified Powertrain Flight Demonstration (EPFD) program, GE Aerospace will mature a megawatt class hybrid electric system for ground and flight tests in the mid-2020s using a modified Saab 340B testbed and GE’s CT7-9B turboprop engines. The NASA EPFD program builds on GE Aerospace’s experience advancing electrification of aircraft and engine systems components, including motors, generators and power converters.

One of the enabling technologies being studied in the CFM RISE Program is a compact engine core. In another multimillion-dollar program with NASA announced in late 2021, GE Aerospace was awarded contracts to test and mature new jet engine core designs, including compressor, combustor and high-pressure turbine technologies to improve thermal efficiency.

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