The first Boeing 787 Dreamliner with General Electric (GE) engines, an aircraft referred to as ZA005, completed its first flight at 6:29 p.m. Pacific time on June 16, following a 3-hour-and-48-minute flight over the state of Washington.
GE executives and Boeing employees were on hand to welcome Captains Mike Bryan and Mike Carriker to Boeing Field in Seattle following completion of the flight. ZA005 is powered by GEnx-1B64 engines.
“The airplane handled just like I expected,” says Bryan, who captained the flight. “It was just like every other 787 flight that I’ve flown in the last several months – smooth, per plan and excellent.”
“The GEnx engine program has been designing, developing and testing the engine for five years so today’s events are a testament to the team’s extraordinary efforts,” says Tom Brisken, general manager of the GEnx program.
“We’re pleased to introduce the fifth Dreamliner to the flight-test fleet and to start flight testing with GE engines,” says Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “It’s taken the collective resources and dedication of our teams to get to this day. There’s just nothing like a first flight to validate that it has been worth the sacrifices we have all seen our teams make in the past several years.”
ZA005 will be used to test the General Electric engine package and demonstrate that the changes made with the new engine do not change the airplane’s handling characteristics.
The GEnx engine is a brand-new large-turbofan engine developed by GE from its successful GE90 family of engines and so far has two major versions, the GEnx-1B powering the 787 and the GEnx-2B powering the new 747-8. The first GEnx engine to fly was the GEnx-2B, which first took to the air when the first Boeing 747-8F made its first flight on February 8. The 747-8F is well into its flight-test program, having completed its initial airworthiness testing in the first 10 days of March.
The sixth, and final, Boeing 787 to join the flight test program is expected to fly before the end of July. It will also be powered by GEnx-1B64 engines. The first four Boeing 787s to fly are all powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, the rival powerplant to the GEnx-1B for the Dreamliner.
Delivery of the first 787 is planned for the fourth quarter of 2010. Altogether, 56 customers have ordered 860 787s since the program was launched in April 2004. Continental Airlines has already announced two new long-haul routes that it will fly with its Boeing 787s, the first 787-specific routes announced by any airline.
The GEnx is the fastest-selling engine in GE’s history with about 1,300 engines on order. More than 800 of these orders are for the GEnx-1B, the rest being for the GEnx-2B.
Based on the proven architecture of the GE90, the GEnx engine will succeed GE’s CF6 engine. Compared to the CF6 engine, the GEnx-1B engine will offer 15 per cent improved fuel efficiency, which translates to 15 per cent less CO2. The engine achieves these improvements with aerodynamic advancements that enable higher pressures and improved energy extraction from a more compact core architecture that has significantly fewer parts, according to GE Aviation.
GE says the GEnx’s twin-annular pre-swirl, TAPS, combustor will reduce NOx gases as much as 60 per cent below today’s regulatory limits and other regulated gases as much as 90 per cent. Based on the ratio of decibels to pounds of thrust, the GEnx will be the quietest engine GE has produced due to the large, more efficient fan blades that operate at a slower blade-tip speed, resulting in about 30 per cent lower noise levels. The GEnx will be the world’s only jet engine with both a front fan case and fan blades made of carbon fiber composites.
IHI of Japan, Avio SpA. of Italy, Volvo Aero of Sweden, MTU of Germany, TechSpace Aero of Belgium, Snecma (SAFRAN Group) of France and Samsung Techwin of Korea are revenue-sharing participants in the GEnx program.