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Three-stream adaptive engine tested by AEDC

Testing has been completed for Pratt & Whitney by AEDC (Arnold Engineering Development Complex) engineers on an adaptive three-stream fan at the J2 Engine Test Facility at Arnold Air Force Base (AFB) in Tennessee.

The testing, part of the US Air Force Research Laboratory’s Adaptive Engine Technology Development (AETD) program, is intended to evaluate the feasibility of an additional third airstream in military turbofan engines. Development of a third stream can provide an additional source of airflow to improve propulsion efficiency, lower fuel burn and provide additional cooling air, or to deliver additional air flow through the core for higher thrust.

Having a third stream of air that can be modulated to adapt the engine's performance across the flight envelope means a fighter can access an on-demand increase in thrust or smoothly shift to highly efficient operations during cruise. This capability provides an ideal balance for combat scenarios requiring both high-end acceleration and increased range. The goal of the AETD program is to provide a 25% reduction in fuel consumption and a 10% improvement in thrust levels compared to today's fifth-generation combat aircraft engines.

“We had guys working 24/7 prepping for the test and then we had such a small test window that we asked the team to execute 237 scheduled air-on hours in six weeks,” said Richard Walker, AETD test manager and Advanced Engine Integrated Product team lead at Arnold.

“I really have to praise our team because even with all the challenges concerning the schedule, the test program was successful.”

A recent Pratt & Whitney announcement indicated that the success of this test demonstrates the company is well on its way to meeting future US Air Force requirements for combat aircraft propulsion.

November 9, 2017

Written by Michael Jones


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