Pratt & Whitney Geared Fan Update.
I just completed a piece on Pratt's interest in geared fan technology and some of the snags I'd personally witnessed in the execution of the same, albeit on a smaller level.
As it happens, I got on this subject via an article in Air Transport World which may have been spurred by the Flight International article I've linked to.
In the article, Steve Heath, el Presidente of the commercial engine division of Pratt & Whitney, talks up his company's plans to develop geared fan technology and launch a technology demonstrator engine next year. P&W, you will recall, dropped a bundle on the stillborn PW8000 and its gearset. The picture of the revised gearset shown at the Asian Aerospace fandango is proof that there's been a pretty significant rethink, heading more toward what Garrett was doing thirty years ago when faced with the same set of problems.
It remains to be seen whether geared fan technology can be successfully applied to engines in the 24,000 to 40,000 pound thrust area. One of the more significant considerations here will be the diameter of the fan itself, and how that applies to the airframes that the project is aimed at. We've already seen that the engine nacelle on the latest B737s that use the GE-Snecma CFM56 is a curious looking thing in close proximity to mother Earth.
However, given ongoing developments in the price of oil, any engine technology that promises a significant increase in fuel efficiency is one that will gain a lot of attention in the market.