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World's Largest Commercial Aircraft Engine Fired Up For The First Time ( 142

schwit1 quotes a report from Gizmag: With a front fan spreading a full 11 ft (3.35 m), the GE9X is a world record holder and generates thrust in the order of 100,000 lb. To accommodate the aeronautical behemoth, the Peebles facility was recently upgraded with a larger air intake, extra fuel tanks to feed the giant engine, and high temperature gear to deal with the hotter, more efficient design. GE says that the GE9X is currently undergoing its first Full Engine To Test (FETT). This is the next level of the test series, which began in 2011 at the component level, and marks the first test of the complete system, which comes only six months after the engine design was finalized. GE says that this relatively early testing was to ensure that the test data was available as soon as possible for the certification engines, which are scheduled to be installed in GE Aviation's flying test bed for certification of flight testing in 2018.
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World's Largest Commercial Aircraft Engine Fired Up For The First Time

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  • by Noble713 ( 3516573 ) on Thursday April 21, 2016 @05:10AM (#51954373)
    Any word on what manufacturers are likely to employ this engine, and on what platforms? Maybe an upgrade for the giant Airbus A380 to keep it competitive?
    • Re:Which airliners? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ginger Unicorn ( 952287 ) on Thursday April 21, 2016 @05:17AM (#51954393)
      In the article is says the engine is designed for Boeing 777X's. Wikipedia says that the 777X won't have an option of engines from different manufacturers due to the expense and diminished efficiency of making a plane compatible with more than one engine, which possibly implies that this engine is bespoke to those planes and might not be as a good a fit for other platforms.
      • Re:Which airliners? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <> on Thursday April 21, 2016 @05:58AM (#51954507)

        Wikipedia is wrong - the reason the 777X only has GE as a supplier is because GE and Boeing are carrying on their profit sharing investment agreement they started on the 777-300, giving GE a monopoly on the aircraft type in return for GE providing an investment and assuming some risk sharing on the aircraft itself, in addition to GE funding the engine development.

        The bits that are unique between different engine options on an aircraft are limited to:

        1. the pylon (although the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350XWB have common pylons for the engines, so thats not an issue any more)

        2. the design of the actual intake (some engines are designed around a shorter length intake, some are designed around longer length intakes - basically there's an optimal intake length for a given engine, but in actuality the engine intake design is often handed to the engine manufacturer which offers the better deal to the airframe manufacturer, so one engine will often be running at slightly less than optimal efficiency because its using an intake designed for its competitor).

        3. the engine control unit and engine management system code

        Beyond the above, an engine can be integrated onto another airframe easily enough - if you want to pay for the certification costs that is.

        The main thing which ties an engine type to a particular airframe however is the thrust rating - you want enough thrust for the airframe to do its job, but you don't want too much thrust ability in the engine as that costs weight (you need more or larger parts to move more air through the engine) - you can derate an engine, but that means the engine is not operating in its optimal efficiency band, so again you want a tweaked engine which does the job you are asking it to do.

        • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <> on Thursday April 21, 2016 @06:00AM (#51954515)

          I will just add that a tweaked engine is just that, tweaked - it doesn't take all that much to take an engine intended for a thrust rating of 100K lb and tweak it to fit on an aircraft that needs a thrust rating of 95K lb, its not even the biggest job in hanging that engine off that new airframe.

        • by dangle ( 1381879 )

          Are there other airframes in production or planned that would be a good match for performance but also provide the ground clearance under the wing to hang this engine?

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Yes, the Airbus A350XWB-1000 (first flight later this year) and the currently-being-mused-about Airbus A350XWB-1100 would be ideal candidates for this engine, as would an A380 with a new engine option (again, currently being mused about for the 2020 or so time period - Rolls Royce will have an engine to hang off of a refreshed A380, GE don't want to put an engine on, and are blocking Pratt & Whitney from making an engine for the A380 because of the Engine Alliance partnership the two have signed).

            • A380 only needs ~80k lbf; while the engine would physically fit it must be significantly over-dimensioned.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                As it currently stands, the Airbus A380 only needs a maximum of 76K lb of thrust, but Airbus are currently considering an airframe stretch which will increase the thrust requirement - and the engine can always be derated to a lower thrust rating to optimise it for the airframe, while still maintaining near 100% parts compatibility with the version that is hung on the 777X.

    • by fnj ( 64210 )

      Pretty sure four of these babies would be way too much thrust for any existing airliner. I'm pretty sure it's intended for the hipster gigantic two engine planes like the Boeing 777

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Would you care to explain how the 777 is hipster? Does it enjoy thick rimmed glasses, skinny jeans, american spirits and pbr?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Bongo ( 13261 )

          Would you care to explain how the 777 is hipster? Does it enjoy thick rimmed glasses, skinny jeans, american spirits and pbr?

          Because the 777 is like the mainstream number of the beast 666 but with an ironically off by one error.

          • by jafiwam ( 310805 ) on Thursday April 21, 2016 @08:55AM (#51955285) Homepage Journal
            777, Neighbor of the Beast, one block over?
          • Since 666 isn't the number of the beast but 619 is due it being off by one in the originally written language it is even funnier.

            Ancient Hebrew numerical system left much to be desired and has opened up more cans of worms and confusion than Americans complaining about socialistic meteric system.

            • "Since 666 isn't the number of the beast but 619 is due it being off by one in the originally written language it is even funnier.
              Ancient Hebrew numerical system left much to be desired and has opened up more cans of worms and confusion than Americans complaining about socialistic meteric system."

              How amusing. You know that the Book of Revelation was written in Greek and not in Aramean let alone Hebrew right?

        • Perhaps he's suggesting that with two huge engines, it'll look rather goggle-eyed? Perhaps a bit like this. [] That's the best i could up with, at any rate...
      • There's no such thing as too much thrust, there is merely insufficient structural integrity.

      • Would it be too much for a volkswagen? []

        • It can now reach speeds of at least 140mph and leaves a 50ft trail of flames in its wake.

          Somehow, I can't see how 50 ft flames would be street legal as it claimed in that article...

    • Re:Which airliners? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <> on Thursday April 21, 2016 @05:36AM (#51954443)

      GE won't put this engine on an Airbus aircraft, because they have a profit sharing stake in the Boeing 777 and 777X (literally, they funded some of the 777-300 and 777X development in order to have an engine monopoly on the type and a share of the profits of each one delivered) so they have a vested interest in not competing with themselves.

      Its been a sticking point for Airbus for several years - the A380 has an Engine Alliance engine option (which GE is part of), but EA have been extremely lackluster in moving that engine forward, to the point where their prestige customer (Emirates Airline) has defected to Rolls Royce with their latest orders.

      GE won't hang an engine off of the Airbus A350XWB either, because Airbus wants the entire series to be covered by any such engine option (originally, the A350XWB-800, -900 and -1000, now just the latter two as the -800 has been dropped) and GE wouldn't agree to that because the -1000 competes with the 777 and 777X.

      So the only manufacturer that will use this engine is Boeing.

  • Finally, here's the long-awaited technological breakthrough to fight against climate change and peak oil!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2016 @05:52AM (#51954495)

    "Ladies & gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. If you look out the right side of the aircraft, you'll notice flight 195 challenging us to a race. I've turned the fasten your seat belt sign back on because this shit is about to get real."

  • By "Worlds Largest" the summary appears to mean "Worlds Most Powerful" http://www.guinnessworldrecord... []
    • No, its just the largest - the GEnx has a larger fan size than the GE90-115 (128 inches vs 133 inches) but produces less thrust (115,300 lb vs 105,000 lb).

      The GE9X has a higher bypass ratio with a lower core thrust, meaning more air is moved for less fuel consumed.

  • so me not being arsed with firing up the calculator, what's that in Newtons?

    • by Mouldy ( 1322581 )
      100,000lbf = 444822.16N
      • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

        thanky :) considering the engines on the ME262A MK.I only generated 8.8kN apiece, that's mightily impressive.

        • It certainly is; I believe the six engines on the XB-70 Valkyrie each put out less than a third as much thrust...
        • by Alioth ( 221270 )

          The Rolls-Royce Trent has been tested up to 115,000 lbs thrust (and I have to imagine this new GE engine will be tested to at least that, if not more).

          All 8 engines on a B52G produce 110,000 lbs thrust. You could convert a B-52 to a single engined aircraft with one of these GE engines impaled on the tail DC-10 style, and it would probably perform better than with the original 8 engines! Well, until the sole engine quit of course...

      • by Thanshin ( 1188877 ) on Thursday April 21, 2016 @07:27AM (#51954817)


        Which is completely useless. Only the first few Newtons will actually serve a purpose. After those, you've got hundreds of thousands of redundant Newtons hugely overqualified for almost any job. You're there like "I wanna Big Mac and a chocolate McFlurry" and the guy's like "If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants." and you're not sure he got your order, but it'be awkward to ask, so you just pull out a tenner and slowly push it over the counter.

    • I don't think it's possible to find accurate info, but I'm guessing he weighed somewhere in the 150-200 lbf range, so something like 500-667 Newtons?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        1. Claims technological superiority by using the metric system.
          1. Can't use a calculator or to find the answer to a straightforward question.
  • by cablepokerface ( 718716 ) on Thursday April 21, 2016 @06:23AM (#51954595)
    explained: []
    • Good video. I would also think that engineering wise there is also a point to where mounting larger and larger engines would cause more stress on the wings.
  • Presumably it has already passed its Burner Overthrust Bearing Adjustment (BOBA).

  • You could take anybody out of that photo and put it in any (work related) group photo that I've ever been part of, and nobody would find anything amiss. It makes me shudder.

  • Really big engines! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Fuzi719 ( 1107665 ) on Thursday April 21, 2016 @08:30AM (#51955085)
    Here's a 747 test bed with one of the previous generation GE90 engines (used on the current 777). You don't realize how big these are until you see them on another aircraft. []
  • Even better view (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fuzi719 ( 1107665 ) on Thursday April 21, 2016 @08:33AM (#51955109)
    Here is the older engine mounted on a 747 in action []
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've never understood why they haven't used air-breathing engines like this as a first stage of rockets... Strap a dozen of these to a Falcon 9 to get it moving off the launch pad and up to 40-50k feet, then carry on with rocket propulsion from there. From a power:weight ratio, it would seem to me that they're much more efficient within the atmosphere because they don't have to carry their own oxidizer - and I've always heard that a rocket uses a very disproportional amount of fuel to just get off the laun

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Thrust for one, each Merlin 1D engine produces 30% more thrust than one of these. Weight for another, Merlin engines are only about 1,000 lbs, these engines are over 16,000 lbs. Finally they would only provide thrust for a very narrow window, I believe the first stage is only really in atmosphere for about 2 minutes. All in all it adds a lot of complexity, weight & cost for little if any savings. The SABRE engine may help with some of these issues, but I don't think it has the thrust for a verticall

    • by delt0r ( 999393 )
      Thrust to weight ratio is terrible in gas turbines. Next is airspeed. At stage one burnout you going between 3-7x the speed of sound. Look at the blackbird to get an idea of just how hard it is to make an engine work at the speed. Rockets give you velocity and get you out of the atmosphere, and they are good at it. Jet engines give you cruise in the atmosphere. They do different jobs. "space planes" are a terrible fit for getting to space. Just as trains don't look like aircraft, we shouldn't expect space l
  • Time to consider high wing passenger jets. Better ground clearance with large diameter engines.

  • Hard to believe the progenitor of this engine - the GE90 - and the airplane that uses it - 777 - are over 20 years old now.

    It still boggles my mind that a single GE90 will make a 747 take off, cruise and land. GE has a 747 testbed, and the GE90 looks positively gargantuan next to the once-huge JT9s the 747 was born with. Yes, once upon a time the JT9 was the biggest fan. (note that the GE test bed uses GE CF6 fans, which are roughly analogous to the JT9, size-wise)

    Thrust-wise, the GE90 and now this one

  • A 747 sized drone. Sweet!
  • With a front fan spreading a full 11 ft (3.35 m), the GE9X is a world record holder and generates thrust in the order of 100,000 lb.

    They almost got the metric translation complete.

Chemistry is applied theology. -- Augustus Stanley Owsley III