GE Aviation reported that final assembly is underway on the first full GE9X engine, in preparation for testing in the first half of this year. The first GE9x engine is scheduled to enter service in 2020, powering the forthcoming Boeing 777X series twin-engine aircraft. Almost 700 GE9X engines have been ordered.
Among GE Aviation’s development partners in the GE9X program are IHI Corporation, Snecma and Techspace Aero (Safran), and MTU Aero Engines AG.
The GE9X engine will be a 100,000-lb thrust commercial aircraft engine with a 134-in. diameter composite fan case and 16 carbon-fiber composite fan blades. It will have 27:1 pressure-ratio 11-stage high-pressure compressor; a third-generation TAPS III combustor, for high efficiency and low emissions; and CMC material in the combustor and turbine.
The first fully assembled engine marks the end of the GE9X “technology maturation program” that GE Aviation began almost five years ago. It has covered testing of new components and systems, and core demo testing to validate advanced technologies and materials.
The next stage of development is called the “first engine to test (FETT) phase. FETT brings all the technologies together to demonstrate their operability as a complete propulsion system, and collects early information on the engine’s aerodynamic and thermal characteristics.
GE Aviation said he GE9X FETT has been scheduled earlier in the development process than past engine development programs have achieved, just six months after the engine design was finalized.
The second GE9X engine is scheduled to test in 2017 along with flight-testing on a flying test bed. The engine builder noted this timing would ensure that all the conclusions reached in the FETT phase will be captured in all certification engines.
Engine certification for the GE9X is expected in 2018.
“Assembly of the first full GE9X engine is on track and coming together very nicely,” according to Bill Millhaem, GE Aviation’s general manager of the GE90/GE9X engine programs.