Testing out the GEnx

GE Test 747-100

Now that both the 747-8 and the GEnx-powered version of the 787-8 are in service (Japan Airlines is now using the GEnx-powered 787 in revenue service), it’s time for performance refinements. GE has already been working on ways to increase efficiency, and the first Performance Improvement Package (PIP) for the GEnx-1B was certified in August of 2011.

The GEnx, which was developed for the 787 and 747-8 using some of the technological basis of the GE90, began testing in 2006 and first flew – right here on this 747 on that same pylon – on Feb. 22, 2007. The GEnx-1B, with a 111-in fan, powers the 787-8 while the GEnx-2B, with a 105-in fan, powers the 747-8.
Work began on a second PIP for the -1B early this year and seen here is what looks to be the first fruits of that labor, as the #2 engine here appears to be a -1B. Improved versions of the -1B are expected for the stretched 787-9, while an improvement program is expected this year for the -2B.

Much of the work done on the first GEnx-1B PIP and some of the work being done on the second PIP is expected to heavily influence the -2B PIP.

When the -2B PIP begins flight testing, it may not be on this aircraft. Seen here is N747GE (msn: 19651), which is one of the oldest 747s still in service, and one of a handful of 747-100 models still active today (most of which are in Iran). This aircraft first flew on March 3, 1970, and was delivered to Pan-Am that month. It served with Pan American World Airways as “Clipper Ocean Spray” until the famous carrier shut down in 1991, though by then it had been sold to GECAS and leased back. In 1992, it started doing flight test work for GE and has remained the main GE aircraft engine test bed since then. Prior to the GEnx, it also tested the GE90 for the 777 program, including the enormous GE90-110/115 seen these days on the 777 freighter and 777-300ER.

In 2011, GE purchased a former Japan Airlines 747-400 (msn: 29355), which is expected to eventually replace the -100.

Photographer: Alex Kwanten

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