Today many of the routes between small to medium sized airports and large hubs are operated by regional aircraft, powered by turboprop or turbofan engines. In the future the open rotor engine might provide an alternative option. The open rotor would combine the possibility of high cruise speed with high propulsive efficiency. Also, since the open rotor essentially is a turboprop with the possibility to fly fast, there is a benefit of high specific range at low cruising speeds, thus giving it a wide range cruise operation.
In this paper a regional aircraft for 70 passengers and 3000 km range is studied. The aircraft is evaluated with both a counter rotating open rotor and a turbofan engine. Aircraft design parameters such as wing area and sweep are varied together with engine parameters such as engine power and propeller disc loading.
Results show that the open rotor aircraft has a 17.0 % higher specific range at the optimal cruise Mach number compared to the turbofan aircraft. For higher speeds, at Mach 0.78, the difference is reduced to 15.0 %. The long range cruise Mach number is around Mach 0.7 for the open rotor aircraft while for the turbofan aircraft it is slightly higher, around Mach 0.72.