CFM‘s open fan RISE engine to power Boeing Sustainable Flight Demonstrator X-66A

Boeing and NASA's X-66A will be powered by the CFM International RISE engine

CFM International’s RISE engine will power the X-66A, a joint project by Boeing and NASA, also known as the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator (SFD). 

According to a report by The Air Current, the open fan RISE will be part of the research program of the X-66A, which will be a heavily modified McDonnell Douglas MD-90 aircraft.  

The goal of the SFD project is to “inform a potential new generation of more sustainable single-aisle aircraft,” according to NASA. The agency christened its Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) demonstrator aircraft the X-66A on June 12, 2023, with NASA’s Administrator Bill Nelson saying that the experimental jet will “help shape the future of aviation, a new era where aircraft are greener, cleaner, and quieter, and create new possibilities for the flying public and American industry alike”. 

This is NASA’s first X-plane to focus on achieving emission-reduction targets. 

Meanwhile, the CFM International RISE engine seemingly veers away from the ‘traditional’ form of an engine, akin to the X-66A and its wings. The engine’s open fan design means that there is no engine cowl, similar in appearance to a turboprop. 

However, aside from this it is nothing like a turboprop engine, according to CFM International’s paper about the design. The paper adds that, with an open fan architecture, aircraft “will be able to fly at the same speed as current single-aisle aircraft (up to Mach 0.8, or 80 percent the speed of sound) with a noise signature that will meet anticipated future regulations”. 

Serving as the foundation for new-generation propulsion systems which could be available by the mid-2030s, the company aims to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by more than 20 percent compared to today’s most efficient engines. Furthermore, CFM International is seeking to ensure compatibility with alternative energy sources like Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) and hydrogen. 

CFM International is a joint venture between General Electric (GE) Aerospace and France’s Safran Aircraft Engines. 

“We are continuously in discussion with our airframer and government partners about opportunities to test revolutionary new technologies for optimal aircraft and propulsion integration aimed at reducing flight emissions,” said a CFM International spokesperson in an email to AeroTime.

UPDATE June 23, 2023, 08:30 AM (UTC +3): The article was updated with a statement from CFM International.

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Rytis Beresnevicius
Journalist[br][br]Rytis is a journalist in AeroTime’s editorial team, based in Vilnius, Lithuania. Originally joining the team in 2018, in 2021 he then went onto work in content creation in the logistics and IT sectors, before returning to AeroTime in 2022. He studied media and communications in both Denmark and
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