Boeing’s 406-Seat 777—World’s Largest Jet Engine—Tested for the First Time

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Testing has begun for the world’s largest of all jet engines. The massive General Electric GE9X or simply known as GE9X has a front fan that spans up to 11 feet in diameter. The prototype has gone into full testing phase in their facility in Peebles, Ohio, as announced by GE last April 18.

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While the public will have to wait several months before its results are shared, it is a very impressive innovation. GE9x is set to power Boeing’s 777x, a new series of first jet liners from the Boeing 777 family.

The design includes “3-D-printed fuel nozzles and the most extensive use of parts made from lightweight and ultra heat-resistant materials called ceramic matrix composites (CMCs),” as indicated in GE’s official Web site.

The 3-D printing or additive manufacturing has been useful for engineers to design the complex interior of the engine.

“These tunnels and caves are a closely guarded secret,” says GE Aviation spokesman Rick Kennedy. “They determine how the fuel moves through the nozzle and sprays inside the combustion chamber.”

GE9X also features ultra-heat resistant materials that can stand up to 2,400°F. Heat is actually needed for an engine to increase its efficiency, but engines tend to burn due to heated fuel and emissions.

Rolls Royce, GE’s main competitor, has held the title of world’s largest turbofan jet. It is currently used by Airbus A350-1000 Dreamliner passenger jets and has a fan diameter of ten feet and can produce up to 97,000 lbs of thrust. GE9x, on the other hand, is set to perform on 100,000 lbs of thrust.

The 16 fourth-generation carbon fiber fan blades positioned in front of the engine feed air into an 11 state high compressor resulting in an impressive 27:1 pressure ratio, higher than any other commercial airline out there.

The engines have been so impressive that there has already been a total of 700 orders placed, valuing at $29 million.

The testing operation had GE coughing a good $10 million to complete the testing phase. To add to the already impressive design, the engineers put a fourth fuel tank to keep the engine from going dry. Other enhancements include fortifying the test site to secure the engine and adding new material to withstand the high temperature.

Brian DeBruin, plant manager for GE Aviation’s Peebles Test Operation, said, “We also upgraded our engine hoists and transporters to handle the GE9X and modified a wall in our prep building so the engine can be moved after final assembly to make its way to the test stand.”

This is not the first time engineers have tested the project, as they have been performing individual tests.

“Due to the significant amount of new technologies in the GE9X, we planned the testing program differently,” said GE9X program leader, Chuck Jackson.

Different aspects that need to covered during the testing period include aerodynamic and the thermal and mechanical characteristics of the engine. Aside from creating what could be the world’s largest engine, GE also takes pride in building the first American Jet engine in 1942.

GE9x will be available for commercial use by the end of the decade.

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