Barely three weeks have passed since the GE90 — the jet engine that reinvented the logistics, economics and aesthetics of passenger air travel — celebrated its 25th birthday. But the technology inside that trailblazing engine, until recently the most powerful jet engine in the world, is proving to be the gift that keeps on giving.
All Nippon Airways Co. (ANA), the largest airline in Japan by revenue and passenger numbers, announced on Tuesday that it would buy 15 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, worth $5 billion at list prices. All 15 of those twin-engine jets will use GE Aviation’s high-thrust GEnx engine, which stands on the GE90’s broad shoulders.
The deal includes 11 787-10s — the longest version of the Dreamliner, fitting up to 330 passengers — and four shorter 787-9s. ANA also has options for five more 787-9s, the airline said on Tuesday. The first deliveries will begin in 2022.
Until now, ANA used Rolls-Royce engines to power its Dreamliners. ANA is the second airline to change its engine supplier from Rolls-Royce to GE for new Boeing 787s; Air New Zealand made the switch last year. ANA was the launch customer for the Dreamliner program and is the world’s biggest operator of the planes. The carrier operates all three models of the Dreamliner: the 787-8, 787-9 and 787-10.
GE Aviation has sold more than 2,500 GEnx engines since its launch 15 years ago, making it the fastest-selling engine in GE Aviation history. GE Aviation developed a version of the engine, GEnx-1B, specifically for the Dreamliner. A second version of the engine, GEnx-2B, serves on the latest version of the four-engine 747.
Boeing designed large sections of the Dreamliner from lightweight carbon fiber composites, the same material GE used to build the fan blades and the case for the GEnx jet engines. Design, materials, computer systems and engines together made the plane’s fuel consumption as much as 20% lower compared to some older aircraft models of similar size.
The plane and the engines have been in the news recently. In 2018, Qantas, the flag carrier of Australia, started flying a GEnx-powered Boeing 787 jet nonstop for the first time between Perth and London. In the first year alone, the planes carried 155,000 passengers and were 94% full (the industry average is 80%). Only four of those 720 flights were canceled, earning Qantas a 99.5% reliability rating. Another Qantas Dreamliner with GE engines flew nonstop last year from New York to Sydney, setting a record for the world’s longest commercial flight.
“GE Aviation is honored by ANA’s decision to select the GEnx engine to power its incremental order of 787 Dreamliner aircraft, and we look forward to working together to introduce the engines into ANA’s fleet,” said Jason Tonich, vice president and general manager of global sales and marketing at GE Aviation.
This article originally appeared on GE Reports.