Large Jet Engine Innovations from GE Help Middle East Airlines Soar
DUBAI - Long recognized as a leader in propulsion technology, General Electric Company (GE) is engaged in the most aggressive research & development (R&D) effort in its history to bring a new generation of high-thrust jet engines to the marketplace.
GE - Aviation has invested approximately $1 billion (USD) annually in R&D since 2001. The result is a series of new jet engines that are powering the growing fleets of commercial aircraft across the Middle East.
"GE is in the midst of a very active engine development phase," said Muhammad Al-Lamadani, regional sales manager for GE - Aviation.
Today, there are approximately 18,000 engines produced by GE and CFM International (a 50/50 joint company of GE and Snecma) in operational service around the world. By 2015, that figure will grow to 30,000 engines.
Al-Lamadani emphasized that the growing number of engines in airline service drives the company's future revenues, which are used to invest in new technology programs. "Without the growing airlines of the Middle East," he said, "this level of technology commitment would not be possible."
GE90: Record Breaking Engine
One of GE's most innovative engines flying today is the GE90. The world's largest and most powerful engine, the GE90 is designed to meet the challenges of the 21st century in terms of thrust growth capability, performance, reliability, and environmental impact. The engine coupled proven technology and reliability features of the commercial and military engine programs with technology advancements, such as a high-pressure-ratio compressor and composite fan blade technology.
Powering Boeing's 777 aircraft, the first GE90 engine entered service in November 1995. Since then, the engine family has grown to include several derivative engines and has set a world's record at 127,900 pounds of thrust with its latest engine, the GE90-115B, which entered service in May 2004.
"With almost a decade of service, the GE90 has set the highest standards of performance for high-thrust engines," said Al-Lamadani. "The reliability of the latest derivative, the GE90-115B engine, has been outstanding, with a fuel burn that is outperforming predictions on the new 777-300ER."
Emirates Airlines is a key GE90 customer, ordering 30 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft powered by GE90-115B engines. This spring, seven of these aircraft were delivered. Emirates Airlines also signed a 12-year engine services agreement with GE for the maintenance and overhaul of these engines.
The GE90 is part of GE's "ecomagination" products portfolio, GE's commitment to develop new, cost-effective technologies that will enhance customers' environmental and operating performance.
GP7200: Powering the World's Largest Aircraft
With the success of the GE90, GE turned its attention to powering the world's largest aircraft, the Airbus A380. In 1996, GE teamed with Pratt & Whitney to form a joint venture called the Engine Alliance. Building upon the heritage of the highly successful GE90 and the PW4000 families, the Engine Alliance created the GP7200 engine, which is a refined derivative with an infusion of new, proven technologies.
Certification testing on the Engine Alliance's GP7200 engine is complete. Yet endurance testing on the GP7200 engine will continue beyond the certification test program. Prior to service entry, the GP7200 engines in the test program will accumulate more than 15,000 "Service Ready" endurance cycles.
"We are very pleased with the performance of the engine," said Al-Lamadani. "To date, eight development engines have accumulated more than 5,000 cycles of operation. We have shipped our first four engines to Airbus and are preparing for flight testing aboard the A380 aircraft in 2006."
The GP7200 engine has been selected for 67 of the 120 A380 aircraft ordered with the engines specified. Emirates Airlines is the largest customer for the Airbus A380 and the Engine Alliance. The airline will operate 45 aircraft and a total of 199 GP7200 engines, valued at more than $3 billion. Emirates will also be the first airline to put the GP7200 engine into service.
"The impact of Emirates Airlines on the GP7200 engine has been tremendous," said Al-Lamadani. "We are extremely grateful to the airline's confidence in the engine."
To manage the testing requirements associated with its growing engine fleet, Emirates Airlines is building a new jet engine testing facility. This testing facility, designed and financed in cooperation with GE, will be one of the world's largest and most sophisticated and the only one of its size in the Middle East.
This summer, a ground-breaking ceremony was held in Dubai for the new facility. Opening in 2007, the facility will be capable of testing aircraft engines at up to 150,000 pounds of thrust.
GEnx: Advanced Proven Technology
For the new GEnx engine for the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787 and 747 Advanced aircraft, GE engineers are combining proven technologies with breakthrough innovations.
"The GEnx engine will be the most fuel efficient, quiet and low emission jet engine that GE has ever introduced for large jet aircraft," said Al-Lamadani. "Along with the GE90, the GEnx engine is also part of GE's 'ecomagination' products portfolio."
Based on the architecture of the renowned GE90, the GEnx is the next-generation of engine technology to succeed GE's CF6, the best-selling engine for wide-body aircraft. Compared to the CF6 family, the GEnx will improve specific fuel consumption by 15 percent.
The GEnx is the world's only jet engine with a front fan case and fan blades made of composites for greater durability and weight reduction. It will operate with 18 fan blades (50 percent fewer than the CF6), which help provide noise levels lower than any large commercial engine developed by GE.
Lowering exhaust emissions in jet engines, especially oxides of nitrogen (NOx), will continue to be a worldwide requirement. With the GEnx, GE is at the forefront of that technology with a unique combustor called the Twin Annular, Pre-mixing Swirler (TAPS) combustor that will dramatically reduce emissions in jet travel.
The first full GEnx engine will begin testing next year, with engine certification scheduled for 2007. The GEnx enters airline service in 2008 and has already received more than $2 billion in orders.
Qatar Airways signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to purchase GEnx engines for its fleet of 60 Airbus A350 aircraft. This is the largest single order for the GEnx to date. ALAFCO Aviation Lease and Finance Company has also signed a MoU for the purchase of 12 firm, six option Airbus A350 aircraft powered by GEnx engines.
Continuing Aviation Innovations
For GE, the spirit of innovation played a crucial role in our past, and it will continue to drive the business into the future.
"As a leader in technological innovations, GE engineers are always looking for new and better ways to improve our products," said Al-Lamadani. "We want to provide the most fuel-efficient, cost-effective products for our customers. Therefore, we will continue investing in technology well into the future."
GE - Aviation, an operating unit of General Electric Company (NYSE: GE), is one of the world's leading manufacturers of jet engines for civil and military aircraft. GE also is a global provider of maintenance and support services for operators of GE jet engines.