Jet Engine Stuck in the Past

Posted on October 3, 2018 David Atkinson Aviation News

Months after SpaceX launched a Tesla Roadster on the Falcon Heavy while blasting David Bowie’s iconic “Space Oddity”, we don’t really feel that we’ve gotten any closer to arriving at the future we’ve dreamt of for so long, the colonization of Mars in true Star Trek fashion. Maybe that’s because the dream common for people at NASA or the Boeing Aerospace and SpaceX are not necessarily shared by the average person. Or maybe that’s because SpaceX’s launch back in February doesn’t look or sound that different than the Apollo 11 launch in 1969. Especially not when you realize that the technology that literally thrusts people into space and the future, the turbofan engine, hasn’t changed much over the years.

Recently, companies like the Rolls-Royce Corporation are teaming up with Siemens and Airbus to try to create a more environment-friendly turbofan. Rolls-Royces’ new turbofan, powered solely by electric energy, will be only 1 of 4 turbofans on an engine, meaning that the other 3 turbofans are still creating pollution. They’ve also reworked their larger turbofan engines, the Trent 7000 used in the Airbus - France A330, to be cleaner and more environment-friendly. However, Airbus, despite fitting their A300’s with the cleaner Trent 7000s, seems to be more interested in putting more A300s in the sky than they are in being a cleaner company. So, it seems that the cleaner is really relative.

It seems then, that may be a cleaner future is far off. Maybe we’re too attached to what we already know. Maybe the turbofan, no longer a hot new piece of tech, needs to move over for something new. Maybe for dreams like that of Elon Musk and the engineers at SpaceX to be realized and given all the pomp and circumstance it deserves, an old relic like the turbofan engine needs to go. Then again, we’re probably still decades off. Until then, the turbofan is the best we’ve got. 

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