A $50 million aircraft engine research and technology center–a joint project between GE Canada and StandardAero–is being built in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on property leased from the Winnipeg Airports Authority. The project is expected to employ 10 people initially, with the potential to grow to 50 employees within five years. The facility, which will be operated by StandardAero, is slated to open later this year and will expand on the capability of GE’s Peebles, Ohio facility.
The facility covers 258,000 sq ft, including a wind tunnel that is about 15 feet in diameter with seven large wind generation fans that can generate up to 70 mph of airflow at the engine inlet.
“We have somewhat similar capability at Peebles, but we’re adding this facility to expand our ice testing capability. The climate in Cincinnati is such that it allows us to meet FAA temperature requirements (0 degrees to -10 degrees F) for icing testing for only two to five days a year, whereas in Winnipeg we’ll get 40 to 45 days a year,”
Kevin Kanter, design and systems integration manager for GE Aviation, told AIN.
According to Kanter, GE chose StandardAero to be a partner in the Winnipeg facility because it can work on an engine at the test site. “StandardAero is a well established MRO with overhaul capability and an engineering team on site. That’s difficult to find at a test site,” he said.
One of the main priorities of the new facility is FAA Part 33 certification testing for the environmental conditions the engine is anticipated to encounter in flight. It is also capable of supporting performance testing, fleet leader testing (testing the fleet’s high-time engine) and powerplant controls testing.
Kanter said the facility was originally envisioned for the Leap-X project, the next-gen engine for the A320neo, and for the Chinese Comac C919 but it’s also slated to support testing for the TechX, slated to enter testing in 2013 and service in 2016. The TechX engine will expand GE’s presence in the ultra-long-range, large-cabin business aircraft segment and will include advanced technologies from GE’s commercial and military engines.
The center, which will be used for other platforms in the future, includes test cell capabilities for engines up to 150 inches in diameter and up to 150,000 pounds of thrust as well as capabilities to accommodate high-performance military engines. It will also be equipped with a large wind generator for crosswind, ingestion and icing certification testing.
The new facility will be able to recreate hailstorms, hail stones, ice slabs (ice coming off an inlet or wing and being ingested by the engine) and water ingestion to simulate going through a severe tropical storm. The facility will also work with local Winnipeg academic institutions doing research on ice crystal development.