Airbus and CFM collaborate to launch a flight test demonstrator for “open-fan” engine architecture

Airbus and CFM, a joint venture between GE and Safran, are teaming up to flight test CFM’s cutting-edge open-fan engine architecture.

Aviation International News

The open fan architecture is a key component of the engine maker’s “Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines” (RISE) technology development programme – which aims to demonstrate and mature a range of new technologies for future engines that could enter service by the mid-2030s.

As per a press release by Airbus, the open fan technology will also be the focus of a major Airbus flight demonstration campaign to be performed in collaboration with CFM in the second half of this decade.

CFM “Open-Fan” demonstrator | aviationweek

The joint demonstration programme will see CFM performing engine ground tests, along with flight test validation at GE Aviation’s Flight Test Operations centre in Victorville, California, USA, while the second phase of flight tests will be performed from the Airbus flight test facility in Toulouse, France, in the second half of the decade.

Apparently, the collaboration has extensive objectives which include:

  • evaluation of open fan propulsive efficiency and performance on an aircraft
  • acceleration and maturity of technologies through ground testing
  • assessment of aircraft/engine integration and aerodynamics (thrust, drag, loads)
  • evaluation of internal and external noise levels, and
  • find the right design that meets both-the fuel efficiency and the acoustic targets (for the communities around airports and also for passengers inside the cabin)

However, the road to the final demonstration would involve an intensive phase of Engineering preparatory work.

We will first need to determine the flight physics constraints, design and assessments for the flight-test demonstration FTD engine installation. These will include: definition of the pylon ‘aero-lines’, assessment of loads, handling qualities and performance and preparation of modeling to support flight-test analysis

Pascal Arrouy, Airbus’ Open Fan Architect in the “Propulsion of Tomorrow” R&T programme explains

For these tests, the open fan engine will be mounted under the wing of a specially configured and instrumented A380 testbed aircraft. Various aircraft systems will also need to be modified and preparatory tests performed to ensure that the behaviour of the A380 flight test aircraft with an open fan engine installed can be well understood for flight clearance and data validity.


Between now and 2035, Airbus’ R&T is focused on testing various technologies to reduce aircraft emissions including alternative fuels with 100% SAF compatibility before 2030, hydrogen technologies and hybridization.

New propulsion technologies will play an important role in achieving aviation’s net-zero objectives, along with new aircraft designs and sustainable energy sources. By evaluating, maturing and validating open fan engine architecture using a dedicated flight test demonstrator, we are collaboratively making yet another significant contribution to the advancement of technology bricks that will enable us to reach our industry-wide decarbonisation targets

 said Sabine Klauke, Airbus Chief Technical Officer

Furthermore, Airbus is also committed to meeting the Paris Agreement targets and leading the decarbonisation of the aviation sector in full collaboration with all stakeholders – including engine manufacturers.


COVER: Flight Global

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