Last Wednesday, GE Aviation announced that the engine that will power Boeing’s 777X aircraft successfully completed its first flight test in Victorville, Calif. Known as the GE9X, the engine is in the 100,000-pound thrust class and features the world’s largest front fan (134 inches in diameter), a composite fan case and 16 fourth generation CFRP fan blades.

Other key features include 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 ceramic matrix composite (CMC) material in the combustor and turbine.

“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 Ted Ingling, general manager of the GE9X program at GE Aviation. “[Wednesday’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.”

Prior to flight testing, the engine underwent six months of extensive ground testing in 2016, totaling 167 hours, 213 cycles and 89 starts.  The ground tests provided data on the engine’s aerodynamic and thermal characteristics, mechanical integrity, performance and operability. Certification testing of the GE9X began in May 2017. GE currently has 700 of the engines on order, and expects to complete the certification process in 2019.

However, the engine will not be the only part of the 777X made with composites. In 2016, Boeing invested more than $300 million on a new composite center in St. Louis that will be responsible for Production of 777X wing edge and empennage parts.

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