A message from Ted Ingling, GE9X Program General Manager at GE Aviation, during the 2017 Paris Air Show.
Certification testing is underway on GE Aviation’s latest engine in development—the GE9X that will power Boeing’s 777X aircraft.
Last month the second engine to test (SETT) fired up at our Peebles, Ohio outdoor test center after a year’s worth of validation efforts on the first full engine and six years of work and testing on the technologies that make the GE9X such a magnificent engine. These component-level and rig tests provided the empirical data to set us on solid ground for certification testing.
Many of the GE9X technologies, like the composite fan case and blades, low-emissions combustor and ceramic matrix composite (CMC) material, stem from GE Aviation’s decade-long engine portfolio renewal. I’ve been privileged to play a part in these efforts, working on all three CFM International’s LEAP engine models and now the GE9X. Our learnings from the last 10 years run deep, and we applied them to each engine that we developed.
What makes the 100,000 lbs-thrust class GE9X so special? For starters, the engine sports a 134-inch diameter front fan—the largest commercial engine fan—with just 16 fourth-generation carbon fiber composite fan blades. The fewer, thinner blades enhance the engine’s airflow, and the front fan module with its lightweight composite fan case and outlet guide vanes are lighter and more efficient to help overall performance and reduce fuel consumption.
Interested in learning more? Watch the GE9X undergoing preliminary icing tests at GE Aviation’s Engine Test Operation in Peebles, Ohio:
Yet the GE9X has more to its architecture and technology than just size. The GE9X pushes aerodynamics in the compressor with a 27:1 pressure ratio, enabling the engine to achieve a 60:1 overall pressure ratio, the highest for any commercial aircraft engine. This allows the GE9X to be more efficient and lighter overall.
Based on the GEnx and LEAP combustors, the GE9X TAPS III combustor pre-mixes fuel and air from the compressor prior to combustion for a leaner burn that produces fewer emissions than conventional combustion systems. In fact, the GE9X engine has a 25-30% margin on NOx (nitrogen oxides) regulatory standards. An added benefit from the TAPS system is a more uniform thermal energy input into the turbine to help improve durability.
Like the LEAP, the GE9X fuel nozzle tips in the combustor are manufactured additively as a single structure instead of welding and brazing multiple pieces together as we have in the past. This new manufacturing technique creates nozzle tips that are lighter and more durable. Additive is also used on the GE9X lightweight titanium aluminide or TiAl low-pressure turbine blades produced at Avio Aero as well as other components throughout the engine.
A quick introduction to additive manufacturing:
CMCs have turned out to be everything we thought they could be and more, and the GE9X engine takes CMC use to the next level. First used on the LEAP’s high pressure turbine (HPT) shroud, the GE9X features CMC liners in the combustor and HPT stage 1 shrouds and stage 1 and 2 nozzles. CMC components are heat-resistant, lighter, more durable and require less cooling air. All these traits provide customers with more fuel efficiency and longer time on wing for the engine.
Combine the technologies of the GE9X engine and you have an engine that will be 5% better in fuel efficiency versus any engine in its class. With almost 700 engines on order, the GE9X engine has quickly gained a following among airline customers around the world. For the GE Aviation team, we can’t wait to see the first GE9X engine tucked under wing of our flying testbed later this year.
Stay up-to-date on all of GE Aviation’s news and announcements throughout the Paris Air Show at geaviation.com/shows!