The American company GE Aviation introduced the Affinity turbofan jet engine, which is supposed to be installed on the promising supersonic passenger aircraft AS2. The new power plant constructively combines the features of jet engines with a small degree of bypass for military aircraft and power plants with a high degree of bypass for passenger aircraft. At the same time, there are no new and breakthrough technologies in it.
The development of the AS2 passenger aircraft has been conducted by Aerion since 2014. According to preliminary calculations, the length of the aircraft will be 51.8 m, height – 6.70 m, and wingspan – 18.60 m. The maximum take-off weight of a supersonic aircraft will be 54.8 tons. AS2 will be equipped with three engines, each of which, according to developers, must be at least 69 kNt. The aircraft will be designed to carry up to 12 passengers.
AS2 will fly above water at a cruising speed of 1.4-1.6 Mach numbers, slowing to 1.2 over land. A slightly lower flight speed over land, coupled with the special aerodynamic design of the airframe, will allow, as developers expect, to almost completely avoid the formation of shock waves. The range of the aircraft at a speed of 1.4 Mach number will be 7,800 km and at a speed of 0.95 Mach number will be 10,000 km. At present, international rules prohibit flights of supersonic aircraft over populated land areas.
For supersonic flights, conventional turbofan engines of modern passenger aircraft are not suitable.
Its new Affinity engine, GE Aviation refers to power plants with an average degree of bypass. The basis of the engine is a modified gas generator of the CFM56 turbofan engine, which, in turn, is structurally based on the gas generator from F101, the power plant for supersonic B-1B Lancer bomber. According to a record in the corporate blog of GE Aviation, the power plant will receive an upgraded electronic digital engine management system with full responsibility.
The new Affinity power unit will be able to provide passenger flight at altitudes up to 18,300 meters. The developer claims that the new engine will work effectively at supersonic and subsonic flight speeds. Presumably, the new engine will be fully ready by 2023. Aerion plans to conduct the first flight of the AS2 supersonic passenger aircraft in June 2023.