GE9X Takes Flight on 747 Testbed

 - March 14, 2018, 3:58 PM
GE Aviation's Boeing 747 testbed takes off with a GE9X attached to the inner pylon of its left wing from Victorville, California. (Photo: GE Aviation)

The GE9X engine lifted off on March 13 under one of the the wings of GE Aviation’s 747 flying testbed for its first flight test from Victorville, California, the engine company announced Wednesday. The engine destined to power the new Boeing 777X took to the air at around 10:40 a.m. local time and flew for more than four hours. The aircraft and engine completed the entire test card and validated the operational and functional characteristics that will allow the test campaign to progress in subsequent flights.

“The GE9X and Victorville teams have spent months preparing for flight testing of the engine, and their efforts paid off today with a picture-perfect first flight,” said GE9X program manager Ted Ingling. “Today's flight starts the beginning of the GE9X flight test campaign that will last for several months, allowing us to accumulate data on how the engine performs at altitude and during various phases of flight.”

Certification testing of the GE9X began last May. The engine recently finished icing tests at GE Aviation’s facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and crosswind testing at the Peebles Test Operation in Ohio contines. GE expects the engine to gain certification next year, in time for 777-9X entry into service in 2020.

The GE9X occupies the 100,000 pound thrust class. Its 134-inch-diameter front fan is the largest of any commercial engine in production or under development. Featuring a composite fan case and 16 fourth-generation carbon fiber composite fan blades, the GE9X also incorporates a 27:1 pressure-ratio 11-stage high-pressure compressor, a third-generation TAPS III combustor, and ceramic matrix composite (CMC) material in the combustor and turbine.

IHI Corporation, Safran Aircraft Engines, Safran Aero Boosters, and MTU Aero Engines all participate in the GE9X engine program.