Gas Turbine Engines: Public Forum

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Thoughts from Monday's SciTech Panel Discussion on the Impact of Covid19 on the Aerospace Sector

  • 1.  Thoughts from Monday's SciTech Panel Discussion on the Impact of Covid19 on the Aerospace Sector

    Posted 18 Jan, 2021 06:01
    Hopefully, this note finds you and your families well.  2020 was a trying year for all of us no matter where we sit on the planet.  With significantly reduced levels of commercial air traffic, strain has been placed on the aerospace sector and, in particular, the gas turbine engine ecosystem.  Accordingly, the Gas Turbine Engine TC organized a special panel session on Monday, January 11, 2021 at AIAA SciTech to address this head on.  The three invited panelists - Joel Kirk (Leader for Advanced Systems Design & Technology, GE Aviation), Michael Winter (Senior Fellow in Advanced Technology, Pratt & Whitney), and Lisa Teague (Head, Emerging Technologies & Innovation at Rolls-Royce Liberty Works) - provided their insights on the Impact of Covid19 on the Aviation and Gas Turbine Sector over the course of 90 minutes.

    What struck me most as I listened to each of the unique perspectives were two consistent themes common throughout: 1) all engine manufacturers are committed to creating sustainable, climate-friendly, fuel-sipping engines through deep investment in technology; and 2) all engine manufacturers recognize that better times are ahead and the future is incredibly bright for up and coming aerospace, mechanical, and related aerospace fields of engineering.

    On the technology development front, GE indicated renewed interest in open rotor architectures for next generation aircraft.  Pratt & Whitney indicated further development of geared architectures as well as bio-derived fuels.  Rolls-Royce indicated investment in their UltraFan architecture and supporting technologies.  In all cases, the engineering challenges are plentiful, and the opportunities for early career engineers to make a big impact on both the global climate as well as the next generation of aircraft engines are on the horizon.  It will take some patience, though, as the world is still struggling to emerge on the backside of the Covid19 pandemic through the broad distribution of a vaccine.  As I listened to the optimism conveyed by all three panelists, I was reminded of Carlos Haertel's Voices of Hope article published midyear 2020 in our GTE TC Engage Forum: "This, too, shall pass."

    If you attended the event last Monday, what did you take away from the session?  Did anything surprise you?
    If you did not have a chance to attend the session, what would you have hoped to learn from the speakers?  Perhaps some of us who were able to attend can offer our thoughts to your top questions.

    I look forward to the sharing of your questions and perspectives.

    Eric J. Ruggiero, PhD
    Vice-Chair, Gas Turbine Engines Technical Committee