Fan of Adaptation

Pratt & Whitney later this year will begin testing the adaptive fan that is part of the next-generation variable-cycle propulsion design that it is maturing under the Air Force Research Lab’s Adaptive Engine Technology Development program, said Bennett Croswell, president of the company’s military engines sector. “We are going to be running that fan at [AFRL’s] Compressor Research Facility in Dayton, [Ohio], in the next few months,” he told the Daily Report last month in Paris for the Paris Air Show. Those tests will run into 2015. “Then, we will run the core of our adaptive engine, which is the compressor, combustor, and the high turbine. Then, the next year [2016], we will run a full engine,” he said. Last October, the Air Force announced a $335 million contract to the company for these activities. AETD “will be the foundation of our next generation of fighter engines,” said Croswell. This work will also provide opportunities for spinning off technologies to upgrade the F135 engine for the F-35 strike fighter, he said during the June 16 interview. The Air Force envisions that variable-cycle engines will be able to operate efficiently over a range of operating scenarios—such as during a fast cruise or at slower loitering speeds. General Electric Aviation is also maturing AETD technology under Air Force sponsorship. (See also In for the Long Burn.)