It was 20 years ago last month that GE Aviation and Pratt & Whitney finalized the agreement to create Engine Alliance. Originally launched to develop a jet engine for Boeing’s 747-500X/600X aircraft, Engine Alliance’s GP7200 engine found its home as on the Airbus A380. Today the GP7200 engine powers more than 115 A380s, which is 60 percent of the world’s A380 fleet in service.
The engine has proven itself as a strong performer in the field and maintains its position as the quietest, most reliable and most fuel efficient with more than $1 million annual fuel costs savings per aircraft for operators. Along with revenue-sharing partners MTU Aero Engines, Safran Aero Boosters and Safran Aircraft Engines, Engine Alliance is celebrating its two decades of aviation history in a video featuring past and current Engine Alliance leaders who discuss the partnership’s launch and successes.
Let’s take a photographic walk down Engine Alliance’s memory lane for 20 of its biggest highlights (click on the date for more information on each event).
May 8, 1996: GE and Pratt & Whitney sign an initial agreement to jointly develop a new jet engine for the Boeing 747-500X/-600X aircraft. This agreement was finalized in August with the formation of Engine Alliance.
September 7, 1998: While Engine Alliance was initially formed to develop an engine for the Boeing 747-500X/-600x, the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Airbus in 1998 to develop an engine for Airbus’ A3XX high-capacity aircraft, which became the A380.
July 24, 2000: A nine-stage, 3D aero engine core for the GP7200 program was tested from March through June 2000 and met or exceeded all goals, leading to the detailed design of the full engine in 2001.
May 29, 2001: Air France’s order for 10 EA-powered A380s launched the engine program.
February 28, 2002: At the 2002 Singapore Airshow, Emirates signed an agreement to purchase 22 firm EA-powered A380s with option for an additional 10 aircraft. In all, Emirates ordered 90 total EA-powered A380s, making the airline the largest operator of Engine Alliance engines.
April 6, 2004: The first full GP7200 engine exceeds thrust requirement in first tests, reaching 80,000 lbs. of thrust at Pratt & Whitney’s test facility in East Hartford, Connecticut.
July 19, 2004: Certification testing of GP7200 engine continues as test cells at Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, Connecticut, and West Palm Beach, Florida; GE Aviation’s test facility in Peebles, Ohio; and altitude testing at the U.S. Air Force Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tullahoma, Tennessee.
September 13, 2004: Well ahead of entry into service, Engine Alliance established its first GP7200 maintenance center at GE Aviation’s Wales facility. Engine overhauls are now performed at Wales along with Air France Industries and Emirates Engine Maintenance Centre. Pratt & Whitney Eagle Services Asia in Singapore will soon join the ranks of overhaul facilities for the GP7200.
Dec. 7, 2004: The GP7200 engine took its first flight on a GE Aviation’s Boeing 747 flying testbed on December 3. The engine has two flight testing campaigns on GE’s flying testbed on its way to engine certification.
January 4, 2006: The GP7200 received its U.S. Federal Aviation Administration airworthiness certification or FAR 33 after a 21-month testing program. The eight GP7200 engines in the testing program ran 7,000 cycles with 25 engine certifications tests and more than 50 component testing and two flight-test programs on a flying testbed.
August 25, 2006: The first EA-powered Airbus A380 flew in August 2006. During the flight testing program on the Airbus A380, the engine amassed 240 flights and 2,885 engine flight hours.
April 23, 2007: Engine Alliance’s GP7200 achieved European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) CS-E (Certification Standard-Engine) certification and is the first large commercial engine to certify according to the full EASA validation requirements.
December 14, 2007: The EA-powered A380 received type certifications from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), paving the way for entry into service.
August 1, 2008: The first Engine Alliance GP7200 engines entered service with Emirates Airlines with a 14-hour nonstop flight from Dubai to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. Today Emirates is operating more than 80-EA-powered A380s.
October 30, 2009: Air France took delivery of its first EA-powered A380s. The airline now boasts 10 such aircraft in its fleet.
July 15, 2010: Engine Alliance completed its 100th GP7200 engine, which is part of the Air France fleet. The engine’s core is assembled at GE Aviation’s Durham, North Carolina facility with final assembly at Pratt & Whitney’s Middletown, Connecticut facility. At the celebration, it was announced the engine’s demonstrated fuel performance was recognized by Airbus with a 0.5% specific fuel consumption improvement for the EA-powered A380s. This improvement is the first of three separate improvements in the A380 performance manual, totaling 1.3%.
May 24, 2011: Korean Air received its first EA-powered A380 aircraft and was the first A380 customer to dedicate the entire upper deck of the aircraft to Prestige (business) Class passengers. The airline now operates 10 EA-powered A380s.
July 11, 2012: The GP7200 hit the one million flight hour mark, and Engine Alliance made enhancements to the engine clearances and sealing, introduces an improved turbine blade and incremental weight reduction to further improve the engine’s performance and durability.
October 10, 2014: Qatar Airways began its first revenue flight for its EA-powered A380 with a flight between Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar and Heathrow Airport in London, UK. Qatar ordered 10 first A380s with six aircraft in operation.
January 5, 2015: Etihad Airways launched its first first with its EA-powered A380 on December 27, 2004 from Abu Dhabi International Airport to London Heathrow Airport. The carrier has eight of its 10 first A380s in service today.