The GE90 and the Road to Certification
EVENDALE, Ohio - With U.S. Federal Aviation Administration certification of the GE90 this week, GE Aircraft Engines brings to a close one of the most extensive ground and flight test programs ever undertaken by an engine manufacturer.
GE announced the development of the GE90 in January 1990. In November 1992, the first full-scale engine core went to test; the first full engine test followed in March of 1993. Since that time, GE and its revenue sharing partners have run a total of 13 development engines which have verified the engine's inherent design benefits. Overall, the engines logged more than 3,000 hours, including more than 165 flight hours on GE's modified Boeing 747 flying testbed.
Four GE90 endurance engines completed nearly 8,000 cycles and demonstrated excellent hot section durability. Seven engines have operated at more than 100,000 pounds of thrust, with one achieving a record-breaking 110,000 pounds of thrust. In fact, GE90 development engines have sustained thrust levels in excess of 100,000 pounds for more than 50 hours.
As part of the required certification testing, the GE90 successfully completed both the 2.5- and 8-pound bird ingestion tests on the engine's composite blades. In October, four 2.5-pound birds were ingested with the engine running at speeds required to produce 85,000 pounds of thrust at takeoff on a hot day. GE fired four birds in a sequential volley to simulate flocking birds. Blades 2, 3, and 4 were each impacted by three different birds. There was no thrust loss and the engine responded to all throttle commands during the required 20 minutes of operation following the ingestion. All fan blades were in excellent condition and have continued to run in other engine tests.
The 8-pound bird test was successfully completed on a full rotor of blades in early November. GE fired the bird at the blades at 50 percent span, where analysis and testing had concluded impact to the blades would be most severe. The GE90 met all test requirements by significantly more margin than required.
In mid-November, GE conducted the fan blade-out test with the FAA present. The release blade was detonated at a fan speed of 2,485 revolutions per minute, 10 rpm over the target, with the engine generating more than 105,000 pounds of sea level static corrected thrust. The engine mount system performed flawlessly and the test demonstrated fan blade containment. The ruggedness of the composite fan blade was successfully demonstrated, and the observed trailing blade damage matched pre-test analysis, verifying the inherent benefits of the composite blade design.
The GE90 has been designed to meet the challenges of the 21st century in terms of thrust growth capability, performance, reliability, and environmental impact. The engine couples the proven technology and reliability features of the CF6 and CFM56 engine programs, NASA demonstration programs, and advanced military programs with technology advancements, such as a high pressure ratio compressor and a double-annular combustor, to set the standard for the high thrust engines of the future.
Snecma of France, FiatAvio of Italy, and IHI of Japan are revenue-sharing participants in the GE90 development program.