Committed to a more sustainable future for air transport
Explore how the GE9X™ engine, powering the Boeing 777X, is 10% more fuel efficient than its predecessor, the GE90-115B.
- Commercial engine products burn 40% less fuel since the 1970s
- Carbon neutral operations by 2030
Our Responsibility, Our Commitment
GE’s priority has always been to develop and mature breakthrough technologies that reduce jet engine weight, reduce harmful emissions, and lower noise. For example, engine technology introduced by CFM International1 for narrow-body commercial aircraft has resulted in a 40% reduction in fuel consumption since the 1980s. Propulsion technology introduced by GE Aviation for wide-body commercial aircraft has resulted in a similar 40% reduction in fuel consumption since the 1970s2.
GE Aviation continues to lead the effort to bring more efficient technology to combustion engines. Our innovations over the past 25+ years span engine architecture, aerodynamics, and materials. We fully support global ambitions to reduce carbon emissions and achieve a more sustainable future. Improved fuel efficiency and the related emissions reductions have always been at the core of our products and continues to be one of our principal drivers3. As a leading aircraft engine manufacturer, we are aware of our role in ensuring aviation finds low-carbon solutions.
GE supports the aviation industry goals targeting carbon neutral growth in aviation from 20204 and to achieve a reduction in net aviation CO2 emissions of 50% by 2050, relative to 2005 levels. As part of the aviation community, GE believes that a holistic approach is vital to achieving these ambitious emissions reduction targets, as well as helping its customers achieve sustainable flight operations. To that end, GE Aviation spent approximately $1.8 billion in 2020 on research and development for aviation technology innovations, including investments made by GE, our customers and our partners. This spending includes innovations needed to drive reduced carbon emissions that help make flying increasingly sustainable.
GE's 360 Foam Wash
Working with Etihad as a launch partner for the Etihad Greenliner programme to innovate, develop and test aviation decarbonization technologies, GE has awarded Etihad technical licenses to use GE’s patented 360 Foam Wash system on its GE90 and GEnx-1B aircraft engines. These technical licenses allow Etihad Airways to perform the engine foam wash on its fleet of 777 and 787 aircraft completely in-house. The foam wash solution has allowed Etihad to improve engine performance by reducing build-up of deposits in the engine, lowering engine exhaust temperatures, and improving engine compressor efficiency. These improvements led to reduced fuel consumption and increased engine time on wing.
Our Investment in Enabling Technologies
For over 100 years, since the first turbosupercharged engine took to the skies in 1919, until today, GE Aviation has committed to continuous innovation to reimagine the future of flight.
These, and other technology advancements, have enabled GE and its partners to
in fuel burn from the CFM56-7 to LEAP engine
in fuel burn from the CF6-80C2 to GEnx™ engine
in fuel burn from the GE90-115B to GE9X engine
Developing the next generation of breakthrough technologies
- All commercial engines can be operated with approved Sustainable Aviation Fuels
- GE spent $1.8 billion on aviation Research & Development in 2020 to advance technology innovations.
Driving Technological Advancements
At GE, we continually work to extend use of the technologies highlighted above to drive further advancements. Together with Safran Aircraft Engines of France, we are developing the next-generation engine for single-aisle aircraft. This engine promises new levels of fuel-efficiency and carbon emission reduction. As highlighted below, new disruptive design concepts offer the potential to achieve an up to 20% improvement in fuel efficiency, compared to the current CFM LEAP engine.
GE has been aggressively researching hybrid electric and electric propulsion concepts for years. Using an integrated propulsion system approach, GE is maturing power generation, distribution, energy storage, electric motors, and propulsor technology — as well as integration of these technologies. Full realization of the potential benefit of hybrid electric in aviation requires advancement of the state of the art for each of these technologies.
GE has successfully demonstrated major advances in key elements of any hybrid propulsion system: power generation, electric motors, and ultra-high efficiency high-voltage power devices.
In the 1980s, GE successfully flight-tested an open rotor jet engine — the GE36. This engine demonstrated fuel savings of more than 30 percent compared with similar-sized engines with conventional, ducted front fan systems. Since then, GE has dramatically advanced its computational aero-acoustic analysis tools to better understand and improve open-rotor systems, and the environmental benefits they can provide.
As part of the Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) Program, in collaboration with the FAA and NASA, GE launched a multi-year open rotor technology development program. The initial goal was to achieve 26 percent better fuel efficiency compared to the CFM56-7B engine, as well as a cumulative 15-17 EPNdB margin to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Chapter 4 noise limits, both of which were achieved. The collaboration continues.
Innovations beyond the engine
Reducing carbon emissions requires technology solutions that are scalable to flights that operate on routes that exceed 2000 km (1240 miles) in distance. Scaling advanced new technologies, such as hybrid-electric and full electrification, to today's long-range aircraft will likely require years of additional development. As a result, GE is also investing in technologies that extend beyond the design of engines that can be adopted quickly to further reduce aviation carbon emissions.
Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)
Having powered more than 200,000 flights with alternative fuels, GE is experienced with, and supportive of, SAF. We believe their wide-spread use will be critical to dramatically reducing aviation carbon emissions. Increasing the use of SAF has the potential to dramatically reduce aviation net carbon emissions up to 80 percent independent of other actions.
All GE and GE partnership engines in service today are approved to operate with SAF.
Liquid Hydrogen (LH2) as an Aviation Fuel
The absence of carbon in LH2 results in combustion by-products limited to water vapor and nitrous oxides (NOx). Elimination of CO2, and for the most part non-volatile particulate matter (nvPM), offers significant potential to reduce greenhouse emissions well beyond the reductions offered by Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). Advances in combustor technology may offer further potential to reduce emissions associated with LH2 by reducing NOx emissions.
Broad adoption of LH2 as a fuel is also possible in many other industrial applications. A multi-industry approach is required to create the critical mass needed to drive significant investments in industrial capacity that will yield sufficient volumes of green LH2 at a competitive cost point and to drive creation of the infrastructure needed to support global aviation adoption of LH2. Unlike SAF, LH2 is not currently an approved drop in fuel, and will require new engine and aircraft designs.
GE is actively working in close cross-business collaboration on research and development of LH2, including GE Global Research, GE Renewables, GE Power, and GE Aeroderivatives.
Digital flight-efficiency tools
Fuel Insight is a cost and emissions reduction solution that works by understanding real data from your aircraft and airline. Fuel Insight utilizes our powerful aviation data and analytics platform to merge flight data with flight plans and uncover valuable insights to help increase fuel efficiency and reduce waste. Fuel Insight gives operators actionable intelligence at multiple levels allowing analysts to drill down from macro trends to understand issues on a per-flight level.
Improvements to Air Traffic Management
GE Aviation has developed Performance Based Navigation (PBN) technology that optimizes air space operations. GE-designed and implemented PBN flight paths help reduce track miles flown, yielding significant fuel and emissions savings of up to 10%, independent of other actions.
GE's 2030 Carbon Neutral Goal
GE plans to make our operations carbon neutral by 2030, compared to emissions levels across the company’s operations in 2019.
Our actions to meet the 2030 goal include:
- Energy efficient infrastructure investments
- Reviewing purchasing strategies for their sustainability impact
- Evaluating facility energy contracts for smarter power and greener energy sources
Sustainable operations work is progressing across our more than 100 global sites, including this solar installed power technology at our Lynn, MA site.
- CFM International is a 50-50 joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines and produces LEAP and CFM56 engines. CFM introduced the LEAP-1A engine into revenue service in August 2016. This engine has 15 percent lower fuel consumption than CFM56 engines introduced in the 1990s and 22 percent lower fuel consumption than the CFM56-3 engine introduced in 1984.
- GE Aviation introduced the CF6 engine into revenue service in 1971, which improved fuel efficiency compared to existing commercial engines in the market at the time. The introduction of the GE90 in 1995 and the GEnx in 2011 offered additional fuel burn improvements. GEnx engines offer up to 15% improved fuel burn compared to CF6 engines. GE90 engines helped pioneer twin-engine long range flights, compared to four-engine aircraft variants. From 1971 until today, the CF6, GEnx and GE90 engine technologies have led to a 40% decrease in fuel consumption for commercial widebody aircraft.
- A flight taken today produces around half of the C02 emissions produced by a flight in 1990 due to an average fuel efficiency improvement of 1 percent per year that has been made possible by more sustainable engines.
- CORSIA baseline is 2019 due on COVID impacts.