GE's Aviation Heritage
In 1888, a 16-year-old mechanic, who was later to become one of the "giants" on whose shoulders General Electric Company would build in the 1920s, '30s and '40s, had an idea that if fuel could be burned in compressed air, the energy output would be increased tremendously.
Dr. Sanford A. Moss would see his idea come to life several years later. Judged to be "worth nothing at all" by a university professor in 1918, the turbosupercharger nevertheless launched GE into an entirely new business...aviation.
At the same time British, French and German inventors were struggling with the development of practical and effecient gas turbines, Dr. Moss began developing a turbosupercharger to allow pilots to fly higher than ever before. Dr. Moss built and first tested his now famous turbosupercharger on Pikes Peak (elevation 14,109 feet). GE had officially entered aviation when testing began on a Liberty aircraft engine equipped with GE's newly developed turbosupercharger. The GE turbosupercharger ultimately produced 356 horsepower and provided a strategic advantage for U.S. aircraft during World War I.
The 1940s were the beginning of a great idea and a new business at GE. In 1941, GE was selected by the U.S. Army Corps to build the first U.S. jet engine, the I-A.
A team of GE engineers worked until 3:30 a.m. one night in 1942 preparing the first engines for flight. With a brief wave from the pilot, the aircraft took off from the far end of the field and the aircraft gently lifted into the air. America entered the jet age.
Today, GE Aircraft Engines continues to be the world leader in jet engine technology and production, with the strongest product line in the industry and a commitment to technological and developmental excellence.
In the midst of the greatest technological development programs in the company's history, GE Aircraft Engines is building upon on its legacy of aviation firsts, including:
-- First U.S. Jet Engine
-- First Turboprop Engine
-- First Variable Stator Engine
-- First Mach 3 Engine
-- First High Bypass Engine
-- First Variable Cycle Turbofan Engine
-- First Unducted Fan Engine
-- First 30:1 Pressure Ratio Engine
-- World's Most Powerful Commercial Jet Engine - the GE90-115B
Today, GE Aircraft Engines, in cooperation with NASA, has begun a study to develop a jet engine to power reusable flyback rocket boosters for a second-generation reusable launch vehicle.
The flyback boosters would enable NASA to fly the space shuttle's boosters back to a designated runway shortly after launch rather than having them descend by parachute into the sea.
GE Aircraft Engines engineers are also studying an engine capable of achieving speeds of Mach 4. NASA's Glenn Research Center has selected GE for the development of a Revolutionary Turbine Accelerator demonstrator and may lead to installation on a third-generation reusable space shuttle.
The new Mach 4 engine would enable ultra-low cost space access by allowing the space shuttle to take off from a runway instead of a launch pad.
From the first U.S. jet engine to new engine concepts for future versions of the space shuttle, GE Aircraft Engines continues to lead the way in aviation. Dr. Moss would be very proud.