Fifty years ago, the CF6 engine thrust GE Aviation into the commercial aviation business when it entered service installed on the McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10. Today, GE Aviation is celebrating five decades of revenue service for what has become GE’s most successful widebody commercial aircraft engine program with more than 8,500 CF6 engines delivered to date.
By basing the design of the CF6 on the TF39, GE Aviation’s first high bypass turbofan, it brought to the civil aviation market a higher thrust engine option with lower fuel consumption than other existing available powerplants at the time. This helped expand affordable air travel to more people, and to more destinations than before, helping redefine commercial aviation since the CF6 first entered service.
Over the years, the CF6 engine family grew to include five models—the CF6-6, the original variant, CF6-50, CF6-80A, CF6-80C2 and CF6-80E1. Powering 10 unique aircraft applications including the Boeing 767 and 747, the Airbus A330 and the Lockheed Martin C-5M Super Galaxy, among others, the CF6 engine family has accumulated more than 460 million engine flight hours since 1971.
Today, the CF6 engine continues to be a workhorse for the commercial aviation sector, including powering air cargo operations on passenger aircraft converted to freighters, as well as dedicated freighter airplanes. Various CF6 engine types power more than 65 percent of the world’s widebody planes dedicated to hauling cargo.
“GE Aviation’s commercial jet engines business is built on the foundation laid by the CF6 engine, which established our expertise with high-bypass turbofans for commercial airliners, new partnerships on engine programs and the importance of product stability and reliability,” said Mike Kauffman, general manager of the CF6 engine program for GE Aviation.
New CF6-80C2 engines continue to be produced. Additionally, GE Aviation’s TrueChoice™ offers a range of overhaul, repair and used material choices to meet the needs of operators around the world to maintain their CF6 engine fleets.
Safran Aircraft Engines, MTU Aero Engines, and GKN Aerospace are participants in the CF6 engine program.