GE9X jet engine ready for maiden test flight before the end of the year

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The world’s largest jet engine has been mounted on the Boeing 747-400 testbed and will be in the air before the end of the year, GE Aviation has said.

Certification testing of the GE9X began in May and is ongoing. To date, the program has accumulated more than 800 hours and 1,000 cycles.

“The GE9X will make its maiden flight on the flying testbed by year end. Also by year end, we’ll start cross wind tests at GE’s Peebles, Ohio facility and icing tests are scheduled to start at GE’s ice testing facility in Winnipeg. Certification testing will continue into 2018, when we anticipate engine certification,” said a GE Aviation spokesperson.

The engine being used on the flying testbed is the fourth developed under the program. The three previously developed engines are being used in the cross wind, icing and FAA tests.

The GE9X engine will power the Boeing 777-9 and will be in the 100,000lb thrust class. The engine features a 11ft (3.4m) diameter composite fan case and 16 composite fan blades made from stiffer carbon fibres, so they can be made longer and thinner. It also uses an 11-stage high-pressure compressor with a 27:1 pressure-ratio, a TAPS III combustor for high efficiency and low emissions. Ceramic Matrix Composite material is used in the combustor and turbine to reduce weight and for increased heat resistance and durability.

Participants in the GE9X engine program include: IHI Corporation, Snecma and Techspace Aero (Safran), and MTU Aero Engines AG.

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before eventually becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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