GE’s 747 testbed lands for the last time

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GE Aviation’s original Boeing 747 Flying Testbed aircraft made its final flight from the company’s Flight Test Operation Center in Victorville, California to the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona earlier this month.

GE has donated the aircraft to the museum, which is one of the largest non-government funded aviation and space museums in the world.

The aircraft was the oldest 747 in active service and made its first flight with Pan American World Airlines in March, 1970. GE Aviation acquired the aircraft in 1992 after Pan Am had flown it for 21 years.

GE engineers removed the aircrafts seats, strengthened the left wing and tail for flight testing and installed data systems so it could be used as a testbed. The aircraft was used to produce flight data on more than 11 engine models and 39 engine builds, including widebody engines like the GE90, GEnx and the Engine Alliance GP7200, the CF34 engines and the narrow body engines like CFM56 and LEAP.

The 747-100 Flying Testbed flew its last test flight on January 25, 2017 and there’s a great video from 2017 featuring GE Aviation’s retired Chief Test Pilots Phil Schultz and Gary Possert about the iconic aircraft.

Since 2010, GE has used a B747-400 aircraft it acquired from Japan Airlines as its Propulsion Test Platform.

 

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 16 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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