A ribbon cutting at Everett wouldn’t be complete without some dragons, right?
On a sunny Everett friday morning, press, dignitaries, and staff all gathered on the ramp outside the Everett Delivery Center. In front of us was a brand-new Boeing 777-300ER, a giant red ribbon, and two dragons. China Airlines is the newest carrier to receive this twin-jet, and since this was their first of the type, a large ceremony was called for.
China Airlines has been a Boeing customer for over half of a century. Their first Boeing aircraft was the 727, which entered them into the era of flying internationally within southeast Asia. Then, in 1970, they added the Boeing 707, which allowed them to begin transpacific flights to San Francisco.
Soon enough, they were expanding and other North American destinations were added. The airline grew, taking on 747s and, after the years passed, they had a fleet of 13 747-400s flying around the world.
In fact, they were the final customer of the 747-400 in its passenger form, taking delivery of that aircraft (B-18215) on the 26th of April, 2005. Fast-forward nine years later, and the airline is taking their newest Boeing aircraft, the 777-300ER.
GE-90 engine as seen on the current Boeing 777-300ER. Photo by Brandon Farris.
Last week, the Boeing 777X took a major step towards becoming a reality as Boeing and General Electric (GE) made an announcement that they would be working together in studies about the new aircraft.
At this point, GE is expected to be the only provider of an engine for the 777X, just as they are currently with the 777-300ER and 200LR variants.
“This decision to work with GE going forward reflects the best match to the development program, schedule and airplane performance,” said Bob Feldmann, vice president and general manager, 777X Development, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “We are studying airplane improvements that will extend today’s 777 efficiencies and reliability for the next two decades or longer, and the engines are a significant part of that effort. Our focus is on providing the most competitive offering to our customers in the large twin aisle market.”
The 777 is an ultra-long haul aircraft for Boeing that many have deemed killed the future need for the 747-8I and eliminated the Airbus A340 program. The 777 is able to hold about as many passengers as the 747-8 and A340, but is able to efficiently operate on only two engines cutting down weight and cost.
Emirates Airline Boeing 777-200LR with GE-90 engines. Photo by Brandon Farris.
The development work on the next-generation 777 continues and includes airline customers from around the world. “We have had strong and productive engagement with a broad set of customers in the marketplace to understand their future needs. We are pleased with where we are in the process,” Feldmann said. “We are aggressively moving forward on our plan and will continue to refine requirements with customers.”
The next steps for the 777X is get a final nod of go ahead from the Boeing Board of Directors and probably the easiest step in finding a launch customer. Rumor has it that Emirates will likely be that since they fly over 10% of all 777’s made to date and are the largest customer of the aircraft, but Lufthansa is also another potential.
With the difficulties of the totally re-vamped 787 Dreamliner program, it is more likely that the 777X will be more of an evolution, like the 737MAX is to the 737NG.
This story written by…Brandon Farris, Correspondent. Brandon is an avid aviation geek based in Seattle. He got started in Photography and Reporting back in 2010. He loves to travel where ever he has to to cover the story and try to get the best darn shot possible.
This story was written by Dr. Dale R. Carlson, Advanced Technology and Preliminary Design, GE Aviation for AirlineReporter.com.
I’ve been passionate about aviation for as long as I can remember. So, as a leader of technology development for GE Aviation, I consider myself one of the luckiest guys in the world.
My team and I get to experiment with and investigate technology that will be used in the aviation industry decades from now … exciting things like electric and hybrid propulsion, self-healing materials and blended wing bodies. What most people don’t realize is the amount of time it takes to develop these complex, game-changing technologies.
It’s not like the consumer electronics world of computers and smartphones where new models become obsolete within six months. In our aviation world, developing new technology takes time, sometimes 30 years (or even more!).
Why does it take so long? Because we need to prove that every new technology does not negatively impact flight safety. You wouldn’t want it any other way!
Let’s take the introduction of composite materials – including carbon fiber – into a commercial turbofan engine, for example. We began working on composites development in the 1970’s through a NASA program, tested it in the 1980’s for the unducted fan engine, and finally commercially introduced it a decade later on the GE90 engine powering the Boeing 777 aircraft. This was a 25+ year process. Check out the video below for more information about the research and development of our composites.
As you can imagine, this exciting technology takes a lot of time, money and people to develop. GE spends more than $1 billion in R&D year over year. To get a better picture of how such an extensive R&D team works, see our new infographic of our global network of scientists and experts working to bring engines from concept to “first flight.”
GE Aviation RD Infographic. Click for larger.
Luckily, we also have tools today that enable us to build products more efficiently. Sometimes we can even use digital engine models with computer simulation as a means for certification testing (where appropriate). We also conduct module rig tests and individual component tests prior to testing the engine as a system. Watch the video below to see our flight test airplane in action.
In fact, we used these digital testing tools to certify the GEnx, our newest and most fuel-efficient jet engine yet. The GEnx will be on display at this year’s Farnborough Air Show next week, in addition to other military, systems and services offerings. I can’t wait to see what everyone else will be highlighting at the exhibition this year.
The GE90 is a pretty slick engine. Info-graphic from GE Reports.
The General Electric GE90 engine is one amazing piece of machinery used on Boeing 777s around the world. According to GE Reports, the engine holds the Guinness Book of World Records for generating the most thrust at 127,900 pounds.
Not too shabby, considering that the Redstone rocket that took the first American, Alan Shepard, to space had just 78,000 pounds of thrust. I fact, if you need to combine the thrust of all EIGHT engines of a B-52 Stratofortress to get 136,000 pounds to beat the GE90.
The GE90 engine started commercial service on a British Airways Boeing 777 on November 12, 1995. More recently, GE celebrated the production of the 1000th GE90 and made this info-graphic to not only show part of the process the engine went through, but also some interesting facts about the engine.
One of the most impressive parts of the engine is the shape of each fan blade. You can actually find one on display at New Yorks’ Architecture and Design Collection at the Museum of Modern Art — how many other airliner parts can say that?