Smiths Tackles Aeroplane Operating Costs and Environmental Impact with Innovative Fluid Management Solution for Jet Engines


The vision

A step-change in jet engine fuel efficiency that revolutionises aeroplane performance.

The mission

Globally, there are now some 100,000 flights a day. With passenger numbers increasing at 4.9% per year, the world’s annual passenger traffic will double in the next 15 years.

That equates to a lot of fuel. Increasingly expensive, polluting fuel.

In the intensely competitive world of commercial aerospace, this creates mounting pressure on airline operators to increase flight availability and expand their fleet while simultaneously:

  • containing the operating cost, and
  • reducing environmental impact.

Couple fuel efficiency with more stringent noise requirements and this places enormous demands on jet engine manufacturers to rethink the basic engine design to maximise efficiency and reduce weight within their systems. The challenge is to deliver fuel to the turbine via the most efficient path for the lowest weight possible while competing for the same packaging space as other critical systems.

Mission impossible? Not for the innovative Titeflex team at Flex-Tek, a division of Smiths.

The innovation


With more than 90 years’ experience in fluid transfer technology, Smiths Flex-Tek is already one of the leaders in complete fluid conveyance solutions for aerospace, with a wide range of flexible hose, rigid tube, or hybrid assemblies employing both technologies. So it was no surprise that the most forward-thinking aviation propulsion manufacturers turned to this Smiths team to help make the next generation of jet engines more fuel-efficient.

The resulting Titeflex manifold assemblies are now in commercial use. Their highly sophisticated designs enable the production of far more complex, lightweight fuel delivery systems for aircraft engines which still stand up to extreme pressure and temperatures to comply with the most stringent quality standards.

Importantly, engines using these new Titeflex manifolds have proved to be 16% more efficient than those used in previous generation aircraft.

This radical gain in performance significantly reduces operational costs.

It also means the new engines are less polluting, reducing CO2 emissions by nearly 900 tonnes per aircraft and the noise footprint by close to 50%. This not only benefits the environment but commercial reputations too.

The Smiths effect

With this high return on investment and environmental gains, these new engines are rapidly replacing those fitted to single-aisle aircraft and regional jets as little as a decade ago.

Since single-aisle jets make up more the 75% of the aircraft in service worldwide today, in the near term this trend will have a significant and positive impact on the cost of air travel and the health of the environment.

Win win.