The world’s largest aircraft engine has recently been tested in flight, which is expected to officially enter service in 2020. The engine, called GE9X, has a diameter of 340 centimeters (just 37 less than the entire fuselage of a Boeing 737) and should be used on the next version of the Boeing 777 which, with its 71.5 meters wingspan, will turn out to be one of the largest aircraft ever built. The test in flight was made with a Boeing 747, suitably modified, taken off from Victorville, California, with the engine to be tested mounted under its left wing: the other 3 engines, smaller, were the “normal” engines “of a 747 and they were left to be used in case GE9X had some problems.
During the 4 hour flight, however, everything went well, Ted Ingling, general manager of GE Aviation’s GE9X program, says that this was only the first of many tests that the engine will have to endure in the coming months. The company that makes the engine has already received 700 bookings for a total amount of $ 29 million.
In order to withstand the enormous stresses produced by the engine, special ceramics were used for its construction, enabling it to operate at temperatures of 1,300 ° C. Since the more an engine is hot, the greater its efficiency, using these materials will save fuel. The moving vanes instead will be in carbon, light and very resistant material, instead on other engine features, which are completely new, the company that built it keeps the secret.
Boeing 737 Engine
Up to now, the most powerful engine had a diameter of 304 centimeters and was built by Rolls Royce, a rival company of GE Aviation. The latter has a long tradition of engines so much so that in 1942 it was the first to mass-produce a jet engine (the J31). The plane on which the GE9X will be deployed, the 777X, will accommodate up to 400 passengers and will have folding wings that will allow them to juggle better in the increasingly crowded international airports.
By 2020 it will become operational on one of the largest aircraft ever built and will allow fuel savings of up to 10 percent compared to other engines.
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