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May 27, 2024
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In 2016, NASA announced its X-57 project. Then in June 2023, the project was canceled without a single test flight. NASA believes that even without any test flights, the program succeeded because it figured out how to solve numerous problems. Today at EAA in Oshkosh, NASA announced it is collaborating with GE on a new test aircraft. This is part of NASA’s Electrified Powertrain Flight Demonstration (EPFD) project.

The PR states: “GE Aerospace is developing a megawatt-class hybrid electric powertrain for ground and flight tests in the middle of this decade. Boeing and its subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences are partnering with GE Aerospace to support the flight tests using a modified Saab 340B aircraft powered by GE’s CT7 engines.”

This program follows tests GE has been doing for several years.  GE Aerospace completed the world’s first test of an MW-class and multi-kilovolt (kV) hybrid electric propulsion system in 2022 at altitude conditions up to 45,000 feet to simulate single-aisle commercial flight. The test took place at NASA’s Electric Aircraft Testbed. Before this test, GE Aerospace has been maturing its hybrid electric propulsion systems through a series of complex steps, including a 2016 ground test.

The combination of GE and Boeing on this project gives it critical mass.  Both firms currently partner on several Boeing aircraft programs.  GE is taking the Net Zero target seriously. All GE Aerospace engines can operate on approved Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) today, and its engines have been successfully tested with 100% SAF that doesn’t require blending with conventional jet fuel.

CFM International (a 50-50 joint GE and Safran Aircraft Engines company) launched a demonstration program in collaboration with Airbus to ground and flight test a direct combustion engine fueled by hydrogen. CFM will modify a GE Passport turbofan combustor, fuel system, and control system to run on hydrogen, which doesn’t generate carbon emissions during combustion.

The hydrogen project evolves even as GE and CFM develop the RISE engine, recently shown at the Parsi show.

author avatar
Addison Schonland
Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.

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