As the picture shows, this is not a big engine as far as aircraft engines go. But this particular engine’s impact has been huge. This is the engine that powered the regional jet revolution created by Bombardier.
The engine is to be found on the Bombardier Challengers and CRJs, Embraer’s E-Jets and on COMAC’s ARJ-21. It is also found on the US Navy S-3 and USAF A-10. This remarkable engine operates at 99.9% dispatch reliability. It has over 48m engine hours – no trifling number.
The CF34 engine has been very successful, but GE must look to the future and new aircraft applications that almost certainly will be coming over the next decade. In light of these anticipated aircraft, GE has started the NG34 technology development program. This is similar to the technology development programs that CFM has for its engines (Tech56).
The NG34 technology development program involves GE’s eCore – which is the latest core that will be part of CFM’s LEAP-X engine and GE’s TechX engine for business aviation (recently selected for Bombardier’s Global 7000/8000). This means GE will have common architecture on the cores for next-gen narrowbody, regional and business jet applications.
GE’s eCore technology should offer ~15% better fuel efficiency than current technology. It will have industry leading high pressure ratio compressor with advanced materials and 3rd generation 3-D aero design for enhanced reliability and durability and improved fuel consumption. eCore incorporates the lean burn TAPS II combustor (similar to the GEnx) for lower emissions, producing lower NOx emissions throughout flight envelope compared to current engines. It will also use advanced materials and cooling design in the high pressure turbine for enhanced durability and improved performance. Core testing for eCore is already underway.
The overall goal for the NG34 technology program is to lower operating costs by 10-15%. Reliability is a key attribute for the high cycle regional jet environment and GE recognizes that the next generation CF34 engine must maintain the reliability of current CF34s. The CF34 has set the standard for reliability for RJ engines. The NG engine needs to be simple (fewer parts) and be robust.
Timing on the NG34 technology program depends on both the development at GE but is also driven by applications. GE believes it will be able to support new airplane applications anticipated to hit the market in the 2015+ timeframe. This timeframe allows for the NG34 to absorb technology and IP from the GEnx and LEAP-X.