Federal Aviation Administration awards $125 million in green technology contract

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Quieter jets and greener airplanes? With the $125 million in contracts awarded Thursday, the Federal Aviation Administration hopes to start making it so.

The agency doled out funds to Boeing Co., General Electric Co., Honeywell, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce North America to speed development of clean technology for aviation.

As part of the FAA’s Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise program – also known as CLEEN – the companies will study and try out tactics to reduce commercial jet fuel consumption, cut down on emissions and scale back noise levels.

The companies are expected to match or exceed the FAA’s funds, meaning that the CLEEN program could be worth more than $250 million. The technologies could show up in commercial fleets as early as 2015.


Boeing plans to test adaptive wing trailing edges that could reduce fuel use while softening noise as well as ceramic matrix composite acoustic engine nozzles that are less noisy and heavy. The trials will take place on a Boeing 737 in 2012 and on an undetermined twin-aisle plane in 2013.

GE Aviation said it would split an investment of up to $66 million with the federal agency to test three of its technologies. The TAPS II Combustor is intended for an engine core that could improve fuel efficiency by 16%, while open rotor research will use acoustic and pitch studies to lower noise levels while also cutting fuel consumption by 26%. General Electric will also try out a flight management system that can pinpoint an optimum flight trajectory.

Honeywell will share the $27-million cost of trials on its TECH7000 turbofan test engine. The award will also help Pratt & Whitney to keep developing its PurePower engines, which are scheduled to go into operation in 2013 and could eventually cut back on fuel burn by up to 35% while slicing noise levels in half.
The CLEEN program hopes to reduce aviation fuel consumption by 33% while pushing down nitrogen oxide emissions by 60% and cutting cumulative aircraft noise by 32 decibels.

--Tiffany Hsu