The General Electric engine that will exclusively power Boeing’s new 777X has completed its first test flight.
GE Aviation’s 747 flying testbed with the GE9XTM engine on the wing took off from Victorville in California at about 1040 on Wednesday (US time).
During the four-hour flight, the aircraft and engine “completed the entire test card and validated key operational and functional characteristics enabling the test campaign to progress in subsequent flights”, GE Aviation said.
“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,” GE Aviation GE9X program general manager Ted Ingling said.
“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.”
— GE Aerospace (@GE_Aerospace) March 14, 2018
The full flightpath can be seen on Flightradar24’s Twitter feed.
The first flight of the @GEAviation #GE9X, which will power the @BoeingAirplanes 777X. GE’s "new" 747-400, N747GF carried the engine under its left wing.https://t.co/o1YNItF1D6 pic.twitter.com/4oepWccNxG
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) March 14, 2018
The first test flight is the latest milestone in the GE9X engine program that kicked off in May 2017.
The engine has also undergone icing tests in Winnipeg, Canada and crosswind testing in Ohio. The program is forecast to receive certification in 2019, GE Aviation said.
Built with a composite fan case and carbon fibre composite fan blades, the 134-inch diameter GE9X engine is designed to deliver some 105,000lb of thrust.
Other key features included a next-generation 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.
IHI Corporation, Safran Aircraft Engines, Safran Aero Boosters and MTU Aero Engines AG are also participants in the GE9X program.
It will be used for Boeing’s 777-8X and 777-9X, which have received 326 orders from eight customers since it was launched in 2013. GE Aviation said there are almost 700 GE9X engines on order.
In addition to new engines, the 777-8X and larger 777-9X also feature new composite wings with folding wingtips to maintain its Code E rating at airports, as well as in-cabin enhancements such as larger overhead stowage and a wider cross section.
The 777-9X is 77 metres in length, has a total wingspan of 72 metres and is capable of flying 7,600nm when carrying 400-425 passengers in a two-class configuration according to Boeing figures. Entry into service is scheduled for 2019.
While the 777-8X is still in development and yet to reach firm configuration, the Boeing website lists the aircraft as having a range of 8,700nm and a passenger capacity of 350-375 passengers. The aircraft is expected to enter service in 2022.
The 777-8X is a candidate for Qantas’s Project Sunrise challenge to Airbus and Boeing to have an aircraft capable of operating nonstop between Australia’s east coast and New York and London.
Airbus’s candidate is the A350-900ULR.
VIDEO – ground testing of the GE9X began in 2016, while this 2017 shows the engine undergoing icing tests.