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FAA CLEEN Awards $125 Million in New Contracts

The FAA has announced it has awarded $125 million in new contracts with GE Aviation, Honeywell, Pratt & Whitney, Boeing and Rolls Royce to develop aircraft and engine technologies that reduce noise and emissions and improve fuel burn, according to an agency press release.

The awards are part of the Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) program, which seeks to develop and demonstrate new technologies, procedures, and alternative fuels that help the agency meet its environmental and efficiency goals. These goals include reducing fuel burn by 33 percent, reducing landing and takeoff nitrogen oxide emissions by 60 percent over the 2004 International Civil Aviation Organization standard without increasing other emissions, reducing noise levels by 32 dB relative to the current noise standard; and increasing use of more sustainable jet fuels, with transition strategies that don’t require significant aircraft or engine modification.

The FAA’s goal is to begin incorporate these new technologies into the U.S. aviation fleet by 2015.

The largest contract has gone to GE Aviation, which will share an investment of $66 million with the FAA for five years, while Honeywell will share a $27 million contract with the FAA, also for five years. Boeing will share a $25 million contract with the agency.

GE’s contract will focus on the development of three of the company’s aviation technologies: its TAPS II Combustor, Open Rotor and Flight Management System – Air Traffic Management (FMS-ATM) technologies. The FMS-ATM technology, which is part of GE’s ecomagination initiative, will enable commercial aircraft to routinely fly more optimum trajectories resulting in less fuel, emissions and noise. According to the company press release, FMS-ATM has the potential to increase fuel efficiency by 5 – 15 percent. The company is working on the technology with Lockheed Martin, and plans to test the system on Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 aircraft this year to demonstrate the environmental benefits.

GE recently reported that the company generated $18 billion in revenue from its ecomagination products.

Honeywell, meanwhile, will be using its award to develop its TECH7000 turbofan, based on the company’s HTF7000 propulsion engine, with a mandate to develop technology for Fuel Burn Reduction and test aviation biofuels. The company has developed technology to convert sources like algae and camelina into jet fuel which meets all and offer significant savings in greenhouse gas emissions. Honeywell said it will be working with General Dynamics Corporation, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on the  contract. The US Air Force recently awarded a unit of General Dynamics an $18.5 million contract this month to develop a greener jet engine.

Boeing will be testing and developing its adaptive wing trailing edges and ceramic matrix composite acoustic engine nozzles aboard two demonstration vehicles, a Next-Generation Boeing 737 in 2012, with a second series of test flights aboard a yet-to-be-determined twin-aisle airplane in 2013.

Adaptive trailing edges pertain to a collection of small controllable devices that are integrated into the aft portion of the wing. Most traditional wings are designed for best performance while at cruise, and have performance compromises during other flight phases. Adaptive trailing edges can help tailor the wing configuration to reduce fuel burn at takeoff, climb and cruise, and to reduce community noise at takeoff and landing.

Ceramic matrix composites offer the potential of better thermal and structural performance, while helping to reduce weight and acoustic footprint.

Boeing recently said it is on track to meet its 2012 environmental targets.

EADS, meanwhile, recently flew a plane powered by a biofuel made entirely from algae, the world’s first such aircraft, and signed a deal with an Argentinean biofuels supplier to further evaluate the potential for an algae-based biofuel.

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