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?
The GEnx-1B engine, that is used on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Image from GE.
This story was written by Steve Csonka, Director Environmental Strategy & ecomagination, GE Aviation for AirlineReporter.com.
As you may have inferred from Dale Carlson’s comments in an earlier blog post, many of us at GE Aviation are excited about our roles. I have been passionate about aviation since my teenage years when I took up general aviation flying – learning my “stick and rudder” skills in a Cessna 172 while living in the panhandle of West Virginia. I‘ve spent 27 years in the commercial aviation industry with airlines and with GE Aviation, and in my current role, I am focused on improving the sustainability of aviation so future generations can experience the same passion.
The value of the aviation enterprise is interwoven into the fabric of our worldwide society – providing fast, safe, and dependable transportation of people and goods. In fact, it is estimated that aviation is currently responsible for more than $2.2 trillion in global economic impact, or 3.5% of total worldwide gross domestic product.
However, we recognize that with our successes come additional challenges –noise around airports, local air quality emissions, greenhouse gases, and inflation of customer operating costs with rising fuel costs. The good news is that we continue to make progress in tackling these challenges using advanced technology. At GE, we call these efforts ecomagination – striving to deliver operating and environmental performance with technology. At GE Aviation, our sustainability efforts align with industry goals and focus on three pillars of improvement: operations, infrastructure, and technology.
For operational improvement, GE Aviation offers services that help customers make flight routes more efficient, schedule engine maintenance and “ClearCore” engine washing, and decide how much fuel to load on planes for peak operating performance. Every one of these procedures is critical for saving fuel and, in turn, costs and emissions.
On the infrastructure side, GE Aviation is looking beyond making efficient engines and is working with customers and regulatory authorities to make efficient flight paths. Stay tuned for more on this from GE Aviation’s Steve Fulton!
For the technology pillar, my colleague Dale explained in his guest post how GE Aviation researches and develops new, efficient technology. Whether it is the GEnx on the 787 and 747-8 (which just entered service), or CFM’s LEAP engine for the next generation single aisle transcontinental aircraft, GE’s technology enables our customers to burn less fuel, shrink the noise footprint around airports, and dramatically lower NOx emissions.
One innovation I’m excited to talk about is drop-in, renewable Jet fuel that, once commercialized, will enable the industry to achieve up to 80% reductions in net carbon emissions versus petroleum based fuel. The industry is also looking for alternative fuel sources that use a range of raw or waste materials that do not need to compete with food production or land use. So far, the industry has identified two pathways for the production of renewable Jet fuels, and is in the process of evaluating and validating at least five more.
Can you imagine a world where fuel comes from the waste stream and other biomass? I can. GE Aviation was one of the first companies, along with CFM, to test a biofuel-powered engine in flight. At last year’s Paris Air Show, GE Aviation showed an engine that was powered by 15 percent biofuel, and we will continue to discuss our biofuel-powered engines at this year’s Farnborough Air Show. Watch a video about our most recent renewable Jet fueled demonstration flights below, which, along with several other commercial flights, flew into Rio de Janeiro during the recent Rio+20 activities in June:
Renewable fuel development is occurring around the world, and we expect commercial production to commence over the next 2 years.
With all these innovations in operations, infrastructure and aircraft technology (including biofuels), I believe we have ample opportunity and reason to be passionate about the future of aviation. Stop by GE Aviation’s exhibit at the Farnborough Air Show this week to explore more of our sustainable tech: Booth #7, Hall 4.
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.
United’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner seen with a quick (and not real) livery for when President Obama visiting Paine Field. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / NYCAviation.com.
Internal communications shows that United Airlines is expecting to take delivery of their first Boeing 787 Dreamliner in September 2012.
United will become the first US airline to take delivery of the new aircraft.
The airline hasn’t been very specific on their expected timeline for their first Dreamliner — only publicly stating, “We expect the plane will enter revenue service in the second half of 2012. ”
Recently, they sent an internal communications to some employees that shows that United has a more detailed plan for their first 787. Over the summer, the newsletter explained that Boeing will complete the following tasks for their first 787:
Bring electrical power onto the airplane and begin to exercise the use of the electrical systems.
Install seats and other cabin amenities (the cabin will feature 36 United BusinessFirst flat-bed seats, 63 Economy Plus seats and 120 seats in Economy).
Paint the 787 in United livery.
Conduct a series of tests to prepare their 787 for delivery.
Yesterday, United posted this photo on their Facebook showing one of their two GEnx engines that were installed on their first Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Photo from United.
The document confirms their expectations for a fall delivery: “September, 2012: We expect to take delivery of our first 787. While the aircraft is expected to enter revenue service in 2012, we will first complete a variety of tests and training. This includes completing FAA conformity checks, which may require up to 100 flight hours of proving runs.”
Of course, dates of delivery are always flowing and it is very possible that United might receive their first 787 before or after September — so don’t get to attached to that month… yet.
UPDATE: I heard back from United and they stated, “We are still saying that we expect to take delivery of our first 787 in the second half of this year.” Knowing how 787 Dreamliner schedules have changed so much in the past few years, it is probably best to stick to that.
GALLERY OF UNITED’S FIRST BOEING 787 DREAMLINER: [nggallery id=6]