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GE, Safran venture to develop open-bladed jet engine

Credit: REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

General Electric and France's Safran on Monday set out plans to test-build an open-bladed jet engine able to reduce fuel usage and emissions by 20% as they prolonged their engine joint-venture, CFM International, by 10 years to 2050.

By Tim Hepher

PARIS, June 14 (Reuters) - General Electric GE.N and France's Safran SAF.PA on Monday set out plans to test-build an open-bladed jet engine able to reduce fuel usage and emissions by 20% as they prolonged their engine joint-venture, CFM International, by 10 years to 2050.

The Open Rotor "RISE" engine, a future successor to the "LEAP" model used on the Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320neo, will feature a design with visible fan blades known as open-rotor and could enter service by the mid-2030s, the companies said.

The system will also contain hybrid-electric propulsion.

CFM is the world's largest jet engine maker by the number of units sold. It is the sole engine supplier for the Boeing 737 MAX and competes with Raytheon Technologies RTX.N unit Pratt & Whitney for airlines' engine selections on the Airbus A320neo.

The technology demonstrator project comes as the industry prepares to battle over the next generation of single-aisle planes like the MAX and A320neo in the busiest part of the airplane market while facing mounting environmental pressure.

Industry sources have said Boeing is considering launching a replacement for its slightly larger and long-range single-aisle 757 jet that could pave the way for a replacement of the MAX.

But it has deferred a decision on whether to move relatively quickly - a step that would require a conventional jet engine - or wait for the arrival of new engine technology expected in the 2030s, Reuters reported last month.

GE Aviation Chief Executive John Slattery said CFM would be ready to compete for whatever new jet Boeing might eventually decide to launch.

The Open Rotor engine concept places previously hidden whirring parts on the outside of the engine to capture more air.

Previous attempts since the 1980s to develop such engines have had to contend with problems including extra noise.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher; editing by David Evans and Jason Neely)

((tim.hepher@thomsonreuters.com; +33 1 49 49 54 52; Reuters Messaging: tim.hepher.thomsonreuters@reuters.net))

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