GE Aviation: Powering a Century of Flight
When the United States entered World War I in 1917, the U.S. government searched for a company to develop the first airplane engine "booster" for the fledgling U.S. aviation industry. This booster, or turbosupercharger, installed on a piston engine, used the engine's exhaust gases to drive an air compressor to boost power at higher altitude.
GE accepted the challenge first, but another team also requested the chance to develop the turbosupercharger. Contracts were awarded in what was the first military aircraft engine competition in the U.S. Under wartime secrecy, both companies tested and developed various designs until the Army called for a test demonstration.
In the bitter atmosphere of Pikes Peak, 14,000 feet above sea level, GE demonstrated a 350-horsepower, turbosupercharged Liberty aircraft engine and entered the business of making airplanes fly higher, faster and with more efficiency than ever before. That mountaintop test of the first turbosupercharger landed GE's first aviation-related government contract and paved the way for GE to become a world leader in jet engines.
For more than two decades, GE produced turbosuperchargers that enabled aircraft, including many in service during World War II, to fly higher, with heavier payloads. The company's expertise in turbines and turbosuperchargers figured into the U.S. Army Air Force's decision to select GE to develop the nation's first jet engine.
Since then, the aircraft engines division of GE Aviation has scored many firsts. Among them: America's first jet engine, the first turbojet engines to power flights at two and three times the speed of sound, and the world's first high bypass turbofan engine to enter service.
Today, GE Aviation is a global provider of engines, systems, and services, with revenues of $17.6 billion in 2010. As a leader in aviation technology, GE Aviation continues to design, develop and manufacture jet engines, components and integrated systems for military, commercial and business and general aircraft as well as aero-derivative gas turbines for marine applications. In addition, GE Aviation is the world's leading integrated engine maintenance resource.