UEC starts testing PD-35 fan demonstrator using composite blades, Russia’s first

The 35 t thrust-class advanced engine to hopefully power the Sino-Russian CR929 wide-body

PD-35 fan demonstrator Technology demonstrator of PD-35 engine fan at the test bench in Perm, Russia (UEC)

The first stage of testing of the PD-35 engine fan demonstrator was conducted successfully on June 27 in Russia, Alexander Inozemtsev, managing director and chief designer of Perm-based UEC-Aviadvigatel reported. The technology demonstrator is the first in Russia to use blades made of composite materials.

Since the PD-35 engine is still at the research and development stage, the fan demonstrator was scaled down to fit the smaller PD-14 engine, on which it was tested, Inozemtsev explains. Further schedule include overspeed tests in August and testing within the flying testbed in 2021. Flight tests of the actual-size PD-35 demonstrator won’t begin until 2025. Its diameter will exceed 3 meters, more than 50 per cent larger than the existing demonstrator, reveals executive director of United Engine Corporation (UEC) Valery Geikin.

Use of composite blades is expected to reduce the weight of the engine by 400 kg, thus improving its fuel efficiency. Once the technology is tried and tested with the current demonstrator, UEC may decide to adopt it for the PD-14 as well. However, due to its smaller size the weight reduction will not be as significant compared to the hollow titanium blades the PD-14 is equipped with now. “If we manage to reduce the weight of PD-14 by 20 or 30 kg, we might convince the airlines [to switch to this option],” Inozemtsev reasons.

PD-14 was originally designed by UEC-Aviadvigatel to power nation’s advanced MC-21 narrow-body airliner, which is expected to start flight tests with this engine option before the end of this year.

Composite blades for PD-35 are made of Russian-produced composite materials developed by Russian Research Institute of Aviation Materials (known by its Russian acronym VIAM). They are one of the 18 innovations incorporated on the new engine. A composite fan frame is also being designed, as well as a new high pressure compressor, low emission combustion chamber, a laminar nacelle and other advanced components.

United Engine Corporation contracted its subsidiary UEC-Aviadvigatel to develop the PD-35 demonstrator in 2017. The programme will require av investment of 180 billion roubles (US$ 2.5 billion). Serial production is planned for 2028.

UEC is counting on the base version of the 35 t thrust PD-35 to power the Sino-Russian wide-body programme CR929. However, Ravil Khakimov, head of Irkut corporation, which leads CR929 development from the Russian side, revealed earlier that line-up of the programme’s suppliers is postponed to 2021, and its market entry has shifted to 2028 or 2029. Rolls-Royce and General Electric engines were also considered for the aircraft.

PD-35 may find other applications with a range of advanced programmes developed by Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation, Inozemtsev assured.

Alexander Inozemtsev, chief designer of the UEC-Aviadvifatel demonstrates a composite blade of the the PD-35 engine fan demonstrator (ATO.ru)
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