Last week, the world's largest jet engine took off on its first flight. The engine is called the GE9X, and it was developed by engineers at GE Aviation.
The GE9X, with a 134-inch diameter, is wider than a Boeing 737's body. It was developed for the 777X, Boeing's new wide-body passenger jet. Compared to the previous generation GE90, the new engine is lighter and 10 percent more fuel efficient. Even though it is larger overall, the engine uses six fewer blades.
According to the company, engineers designed the case and fan blades using advanced carbon fiber composites that enabled the blades to be longer and thinner. The GE9X also includes other components that help keep the weight down, such as 3D-printed fuel nozzles and components made from ceramic composites.
The engine was in the air for more than four hours during its maiden flight, with test engineers both on the ground and onboard to monitor system performance. The flight took place above the Mojave Desert after the aircraft, also known as GE’s Flying Test Bed, took off from a strip in Victorville, California.
The test is a key requirement before the engine is certified for service, which is expected by 2019.
According to GE Reports, the company currently has orders for more than 700 GE9X engines, which as of April 2016, was valued at $29 billion.