Boeing Completes First Flight of GE-Powered 787

 - June 17, 2010, 6:19 AM

The first Boeing 787 Dreamliner powered by General Electric GEnx-1B engines–ZA005–completed its first flight at 6:29 p.m. Pacific time yesterday, following a three-hour-and-48-minute maiden mission over the state of Washington.

GE executives and Boeing employees assembled to welcome captains Mike Bryan and Mike Carriker to Boeing Field in Seattle following completion of the flight.

“The airplane handled just like I expected,” said Bryan, who captained the flight. “It was just like every other 787 flight that I’ve flown in the last several months–smooth, per plan and excellent.”

Plans call for the fifth Dreamliner the to test the General Electric engine package and demonstrate that the changes made with the new engine do not affect the airplane’s handling characteristics.

Boeing expects the sixth and final 787, also powered by GEnx engines, to join the flight-test program before the end of July.

The first flight of the GEnx-1B engine follows the first flight in February of the GEnx-2B engine, which has logged more than 1,800 flying hours on the Boeing 747-8.

Based on the architecture of the GE90, the GEnx succeeds GE’s CF6 turbofan. Compared with the CF6 engine, the GEnx-1B engine will offer 15 percent improved fuel efficiency, which translates to 15 percent less CO2, according to GE. The engine achieves the improvements with aerodynamic advancements that enable higher pressures and improved energy extraction from a more compact core architecture with significantly fewer parts.

The company expects that the GEnx’s twin-annular pre-swirl, or Taps, combustor will reduce NOx gases by as much as 60 percent below today’s regulatory limits and other regulated gases by as much as 90 percent. Based on the ratio of decibels to pounds of thrust, the GEnx will be the quietest engine GE has produced due to large, more efficient fan blades operating at a lower tip speed, resulting in about 30 percent lower noise levels. The GEnx is the world’s only jet engine that uses a front fan case and fan blades made of carbon fiber composites.

IHI of Japan, Avio of Italy, Volvo Aero of Sweden, MTU of Germany, TechSpace Aero of Belgium, Snecma of France and Samsung Techwin of Korea serve as revenue-sharing participants in the GEnx program.