Aerodynamics. Fuel efficiency. Reliability. Extended time on wing. It all started with the development of GE Aviation’s CF6 engine more than 45 years ago.

The CF6 engine entered service in 1971, with the CF6-6, a 40,000-pound thrust engine that powered American Airlines’ and United Airlines’ DC-10 Series 10 aircraft. This propelled GE into the commercial aviation industry and ushered in high by-pass fan technology, and the powerplant continues to be the cornerstone of the widebody commercial aircraft business.

Remarkably, of the more than 7,000 CF6 engines delivered, nearly 70% are still in service today – and the technology evolution continues.

 

Going the distance: The Qantas flight from Dallas, Texas to Brisbane, Australia is one of the world’s longest nonstop commercial flights, and the CF6 engine helps make it possible. It typically lasts more than 15 hours covering 8,500 miles, using a Boeing 747-400 aircraft powered by four CF6 engines. The big benefit is that travelers can start enjoying Australia the very next day.

Going the distance: The Qantas flight from Dallas, Texas to Brisbane, Australia is one of the world’s longest nonstop commercial flights, and the CF6 engine helps make it possible. It typically lasts more than 15 hours covering 8,500 miles, using a Boeing 747-400 aircraft powered by four CF6 engines. The big benefit is that travelers can start enjoying Australia the very next day.

Continuous enhancements to performance and reliability have delivered customer benefits:

  • An overall 2.7X engine time on wing (TOW) improvement since initial entry into service
  • 15% Improved fuel burn since the initial CF6 product entry
  • Lower maintenance cost through enhanced materials and technology upgrades

For instance, the latest CF6-80E1 tech insertion delivers an additional 0.7% fuel burn improvement. CF6-80E engines also feature longer LLP* life than its competing engine – resulting in lower maintenance cost, which can mean up to a $2 million savings per aircraft across the lifecycle**.

DYK!? CF6 facts and figures
The engine family includes (but is not limited to) the CF6-6, CF6-50, CF6-80C2, CF6-80E and CF6-80A and has laid the groundwork for many successful, technologically advanced GE and CFM engine lines to follow – GE90, CF34, GEnx and CFM56 series.

  • CF6 engines power 13 different aircraft types: Airbus A300-600 series, Airbus A330, Boeing 767-200/300/400 and Boeing 747-200/300/400 (among other commercial aircraft, military aircraft, marine and LM Industrial applications)
  • Total number of CF6 aircraft engines currently in service: ~5,000
  • Total number of aircraft powered by CF6 engine models: 1,600+
  • Current number of CF6 (aircraft) operators: 238
  • Cumulative hours / cycles of operation (total across all CF6 models): 425 million+ / ~117 million
  • Prior to commercial introduction, the CF6 was based on the TF39 military engine, the first high bypass turbofan engine that GE developed in the mid-1960s for the U.S. Air Force’s Lockheed C-5 “Galaxy”

  • In 1977, the CF6 was the first to secure ETOPs (extended twin engine operations) certification, taking a four-engine configuration down to a more efficient two-engine application on an Airbus A300-B4 operating over large bodies of water

  • Since 1990, the CF6-80C2 has powered Air Force One – the Boeing 747 that has transported five U.S. presidents to their destinations

Data through Nov. 2016

The legacy continues
The future remains bright for the CF6, as current production volume remains at a consistent level over the next few years. Engines that are being built today for the Boeing 767 and the Airbus A330 will still be flying into the 2040-2050 timeframe – 80 years after the first flight in 1971.

In May 2016, Airfinance Journal survey results*** indicated the CF6 is a top-rated engine for Boeing 767 and 747 aircraft applications. CF6 is also a popular choice for existing freighters, as well as passenger-to-freight aircraft conversions. Ultimately, more than half of the CF6 engines in service are powering the Boeing and Airbus freighters of today.

Additional stats and information about the CF6 engine family can be found on GE’s CF6 website page and history page.

TrueChoice™ Services: Bringing value across the engine lifecycle
You can discover how GE optimizes services and support for the CF6 and other well-established GE and CFM engine lines by visiting the TrueChoice webpages.

Time and material overhaul with high used serviceable material content along with additional efficiency offerings – such as engine exchanges, green time leases and more – can be found on the TrueChoice Transitions webpage.

* Life-limited parts
**Source: GE analysis based on annual utilization.
*** AFJ Engine Survey 2016, as published in the “Guide to Financing and Investing in Engines” special supplement, © May 2016 Airfinance Journal.