A Boeing 737 CFM56-7B aircraft engine is on assembly stands in a maintenance hangar at MTU Maintenance Berlin-Brandenburg.

Patrick Pleul | Image Alliance | Getty Images

General Electric’s aviation division and its French joint venture partner, Safran, announced Monday that they were developing new aircraft engines that aim to cut emissions by more than a fifth of today’s levels.

GE Aviation and Safran together produce some of the most widely used aircraft engines through their CFM joint venture. Together, they have launched a new program called CFM Rise, which is designed to develop and test new technologies that could go live in the mid-2030s, the companies said.

The aviation industry contributes about 2% of global CO2 emissions, and aircraft manufacturers and airlines have been trying to find ways to reduce this while balancing with the growing need for travel before the Covid pandemic.

The CFM joint venture between GE and Safran produces engines for the Boeing 737 Max and also for the Airbus A320neo family. Competitor Pratt & Whitney, a unit of Raytheon Technologies, also manufactures engines for the Airbus 320.

The Rise program will work on a technology that could cut fuel consumption by more than 20% and is also compatible with sustainable aviation fuel and hydrogen, they said.

The companies, which have extended their partnership to 2050, plan to develop an open-fan engine that differs from the covered jet engines in commercial aircraft.

CFM’s decision to develop engines that are compatible with multiple technologies shows that companies are thinking ahead, said Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at Teal Group.

“It is important that everything we have produced is not reduced to dead metal,” he said.

The announcement comes from a stripped-down GE after the conglomerate divested or announced plans to sell units to bolster its balance sheet like its aircraft leasing arm.

The engine development plan “says we have the resources, a little more financial strength at the moment,” said Aboulafia. “I think this is great news.”