GE's new plane engine 'tailored' in Bangalore - dnaindia.com Bangalore: If Bansidhar Phansalkar and his team of 500 aviation engineers have their way, the shape of commercial flying could be quite different in the not-too-distant future, with jet engines sitting on the tail instead of the wings and sporting old-fashioned fan blades. The physics of aeroplane engines has remained more or less the same since the first jet engine was built in the US in 1942 by General Electric. But Phansalkar and his team at GE Aviation's India engineering operations here are out to change that with their unducted engines, which promise to be 30-35% more fuel efficient and cheaper to manufacture and operate. "We can be ready in the next five to six years," Phansalkar said on the sidelines of the GE TechFest, the $170 billion-plus engineering giant's annual show-and-tell R&D event at the GE John F Welch Technology Centre (JFWTC), here last week. "There is a lot of activity going on here on the unducted or the open rotor engine in which AirBus has shown interest," the senior aviation technologist told DNA. Rolls-Royce and NASA were also involved in the project, he added. The open rotor engine places the blades of the jet engine outside the casing, mixing the efficiency of turbo-propeller engines with the power of jet engines. GE had tried this out in the 1980s but could not push the technology for various reasons. Now, with oil prices once again at their highs, interest in it has increased. Thanks to work done by Phansalkar and his team, which is involved in very high-end analytics, the unducted fan engine is close to commercial realty. With the experience of new generation engines and extensive data behind it since then, GE is expected to conduct wind tunnel tests to evaluate unducted or counter-rotating fan blade designs and systems later this year. "Normally, it takes anything up to 10 years to build an engine and put into the market," said Phansalkar. "But we see our challenges increasing and going forward there will be many new products within a shorter period of time. For instance, within the next 5-6 years, we expect there will be at least four new products in the market," he added. And GE Aviation's Bangalore engineering centre will play a crucial role in all of these new technologies that will roll out. The centre boasts of the most powerful high performance computing nodes in Asia for carrying out engine simulations and tests. One engine test may cost anything up to $8 million. GE engines have powered more than half the world's new aircraft with passenger capacity of 100 or more, while the reputation of its GE90 and GEnx engines is almost legendary. Engineers at the JFWTC, which was set up in 2000, were involved in the GEnx engine, the world's only jet engine with a front fan case and fan blades made of composites, from the preliminary design phase to the first engine to test stage, saving considerable money for the company thanks to their extensive analytical skills.