Have you ever wondered if an Iditarod trained Husky and airplane engine have anything in common? Well, they just might. General Electric is currently putting their engines to the cold test.
Last February, GE established the Engine Testing, Research and Development Centre (TRDC), a $50 million facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba (YWG). With recent updates, this allows engines to be tested year-round. At this 122,000 sq. ft. facility, the newest GE jet engines, including but not limited to the GEnx family, are pushed to their max. They undergo rigorous trials in extreme winter conditions. While it may be 30°F outside, these engines are able to be tested at a blade chilling -8°F. How’s that for cold blooded?
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?
this video highlights the passion that many who work in the aviation business have about their jobs and what they do. Over and over again, I find that many who work in the field of aviation (in one way or another) mirror the thoughts portrayed on the video. Most people understand that they are a part of something larger that is very important to almost everyone in the world.
I think the best part of this GE-made video is when some of their employees, who helped to make the GEnx engine, get to travel to Everett, WA and see their product first hand. First, they got to view the GEnx engine on a 787 (which I am assuming is most likely ZA005) and then they got to watch Lufthansa’s first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental take off operating four of their engines.