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GE just test flew the largest jet engine in existence — the GE9X

Image used with permission by copyright holder

We may call the Boeing 747 a jumbo jet, but that airplane may soon seem standard-sized, once aircraft powered by the GE9X take to the skies. The new engine from GE Aviation is known as the world’s largest jet engine, and it made its maiden voyage earlier this week, taking off from Victorville, California.

The engine will power Boeing’s brand new 777X, which already promises to be the “largest and most efficient twin-engine jet in the world.” The mammoth GE9X will be key to its performance. And while we still have to wait awhile longer to see the actual aircraft take off, the engine’s first test flight proved to be a resounding success.

The GE9X took off around 10:40 a.m. PT, and managed to fly for more than four hours on its very first journey. During the duration of the flight, the aircraft and its engine “completed the entire test card and validated key operational and functional characteristics enabling the test campaign to progress in subsequent flights,” GE Aviation noted.

The #GE9X engine, the world's largest, took to the skies yesterday for its first flight! The engine that will power @Boeing’s new #777X aircraft took to the air on March 13 and flew for more than four hours. #avgeek

— GE Aviation (@GEAviation) March 15, 2018

“The GE9X and Victorville teams have spent months preparing for flight testing of the engine, and their efforts paid off today with a picture-perfect first flight,” said Ted Ingling, general manager of the GE9X program at GE Aviation. “Today’s flight starts the beginning of the GE9X flight test campaign that will last for several months, allowing us to accumulate data on how the engine performs at altitude and during various phases of flight.”

Testing of the engine has been ongoing since May 2017, as the GE9X is certainly under heavy scrutiny. Almost 700 of these engines are already on order, and their list of features is lengthy indeed. The GE9X boasts the largest front fan (it’s a whopping 134 inches in diameter), with 16 fourth generation carbon fiber composite fan blades. There’s also a next-generation 27:1 pressure-ratio 11-stage high-pressure compressor; a third-generation TAPS III combustor for high efficiency and low emissions; and CMC material in the combustor and turbine. The engine will be in the 100,000 pound thrust class.

Icing testing for the engine was recently completed in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and crosswind testing is taking place in Ohio. Engine certification should take place in 2019.

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