Largest Jet Plane Soon Flying
GE Aviation is a world-leading provider of commercial, military and business and general aviation jet and turboprop engines and components. It has announced recently that aerospace giant, Boeing, has commercially flown the world’s largest twin-engine jetliner and passenger plane for the first time on January 20, 2020. The 777X jet is powered by twin GE9X engines equipped with 300 3D printed parts.
The GE9X engine has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most powerful commercial aircraft jet engine after reaching 134,300 lbs of thrust in 2019. It is also the world’s largest commercial jet engine by GE, with a front fan measuring at 134 inches in diameter, fully equipped with 16 fourth-generation carbon fiber composite fan blades.
It wasn’t the first GE engine with 3D parts, though. GE Aviation has incorporated additive manufacturing in its preceding GE90 engine already. In 2016, 3D printing features heavily in the engine’s design, aiding engineers to manufacture parts with geometries that can’t be realized with traditional manufacturing. In 2017, further testing of its 3D printed components for the GE9X engine has been successful. It involved ceramic matrix composite (CMC) components and additive manufactured turbine blades featuring advanced cooling technology.
Two years later, the 777X test flight was being prepared. Around 300 3D printed parts made up a total of seven multi-part components. They included the famous GE 3D printed fuel nozzle; others included the temperature sensors and fuel mixers, the larger heat exchangers, separators and foot-long low-pressure turbine blades, helping to reduce the weight of the engine. Later in 2019, 27 Arcam electron beam melting (EBM) machines were added to produce titanium aluminide blades for the GE9X engine. According to GE, 3D printing has helped to make the GE9X engine 10% more fuel-efficient than the GE90.
The GE9X has gone through a total of 72 test flights, amounting to over 400 hours of flying in Victorville, CA. The program has completed more than 4,100 hours of ground and air testing, as well as 6,500 cycles. GE Aviation expects the engine to be certified in 2020. In support of the Boeing 777X test program, eight GE9X engines and two spares have been produced by GE Aviation. Boeing says that the GE9X is the most fuel-efficient jet engine that GE has ever produced, operating at 10% lower fuel consumption than competing engines. There are 2 variants of the 777X jet plane – the 777-8 has seating for 384passengers, the 777-9 has seating for 426 passengers. The new set of airplanes is expected to enter service in 2021.
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