MTU developers were highly sought-after experts for talks and discussions at the ILA Future Lab. An overview of MTU perspectives.
At the start of the 1990s, average fuel consumption of airliners was still about 6 liters per 100 passenger kilometers. Today, the Airbus A380 is down to 2.9 liters. This trend must continue: Flightpath 2050, Europe’s comprehensive aviation strategy, has set clear targets in this area. For example, by 2050, European air traffic is supposed to cut its CO2 emissions down to half of what they were in 2005.
Progress is already being made, said Dr. Stefan Weber (SVP Technology & Engineering Advanced Programs) in the “Future of Turbofans” discussion at the ILA Future Lab. “The first generation of the GTF engine family has successfully taken to the skies, and compared to predecessor models, it has cut fuel consumption by 16 percent.” But, Weber pointed out, that means there’s still a long way to go: “This first generation has only just opened the door for even higher bypass ratios. The GTF is the best concept we have for achieving the targets for 2030 and beyond.”
After 2030, developing engine designs that are disruptive enough to reach the 2050 targets will certainly be a challenge, but Weber said that MTU has already identified very promising pilot concepts. All are still based on the gas turbine, so the turbofan will be around for quite some time yet. Weber said it is worth noting that work on this began at an early enough point. This is certainly true at MTU: “We are already working on the composite cycle engine and on turboelectric configurations.”
Dr. Gerhard Ebenhoch (Director of Technical Management) – LuFo Success Stories
“LuFo” is an abbreviation of the German for “aviation research program,” and since 1995 has referred specifically to the German federal government’s support of technology development in the country’s aviation sector. The program provides long-term funding according to a set schedule so that environmentally sustainable, high-performance and safe aviation can make a lasting contribution to value creation in Germany.
Dr. Gerhard Ebenhoch, Director of Technology Management at MTU, elaborated on what the program means for MTU at the LuFo Future Lab panel: “LuFo played a key role in the development of our GTF technologies, as well as in the optimization of the blisk production process.” According to Ebenhoch, it would have been virtually impossible to develop the high-speed low-pressure turbines integrated into GTF engines, for example, without government funding. “German aviation will rely on this kind of technological funding to stay competitive over the next few decades.”
Dr. Jürgen Kraus (Head of Additive Processes) – 3D Printing in Aerospace: Additive Manufacturing at MTU
New materials with hitherto unimagined characteristics, 3D-printed in highly complex structures that are simultaneously extremely light and unbelievably stable—in abstract terms, that’s the idea behind additive manufacturing. “It’s a key lever when redesigning engines to reduce weight,” stressed Dr. Jürgen Kraus (Head of Additive Processes) on the Future Lab stage. Weight reduction plays a central role in reaching the 2050 climate targets.
Furthermore, MTU plans to use additive techniques in producing functionally improved components that need less cooling air, and in manufacturing new seals to increase the pressure ratio—to name but two examples. As Kraus said, “Both help to improve our climate footprint.”