GE9X: a BIG Certification TEST for FAA and GE

GE9X cut away
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FAA Certification in midst of organization and philosophical Change

GE9X is a major technological challenge

Looks like the TEST was met

The Engine & Propeller Directorate (E&PD) is responsible for original type certification or changes to approved designs of aircraft engines and propellers. That organization has just completed its safety analysis of the massive GE9X.

GE9X logo

Like other Aircraft Certification Directorates(AIR),the  Engine Certification Office (ECO) Branch is participating in the AIR’s transformation. A change which has received considerable exposure of its plans, but less specifics as to implementation (who, where, when).

Part of this organizational shift was driven by a major alteration of the FAA certification rubric and has impacted the legacy E&P, Rotorcraft, Small Airplane and Transport Plane organizations. The FAA certification process is no longer just a prescriptive review, but now requires the FAA staff to make an engineering assessment of the performance of the applicant’s proposal.

ane 500 offices

In this context and particularly after the MAX 8 certification debacle, the issuance of a Part 33 airworthiness certificate for the GE9X, this was a major test for the FAA, AIR, ECO, ANE-150[1] and most importantly the safety professionals who were tasked with determining the engine’s airworthiness.

A process that began in 2017, still, by all accounts the new organization and the new certification philosophy worked well.


REPORTS ABOUT THE CERTIFICATION PROCESS

GE9X-Engine-Graphic-

GE9X Gains FAA Certification

“,,,The GE9X’s FAR Part 33 certification involved eight test engines that completed just under 5,000 hours and 8,000 cycles. GE Aviation plans to conduct 3,000 cycles of additional ground testing on the GE9X to support Extended Operations (ETOPS) approval. The GE9X team also continues to work on maturation testing to help GE engineers prepare to support the engine in service.

Not always a smooth exercise, certification of the 9X didn’t come without its difficulties, most notably reflected in the need to retrofit redesigned Stage 2 stator vane assemblies in the engines’ compressors after revamping their geometry to ensure a proper wear profile. At the time, the problem contributed to Boeing’s decision to shift its original 777X certification target from late 2019 to early 2021…”


hanging engine

FAA Certifies the GE9X Powerplant

“…The process required GE to provide eight test engines to the Federal Aviation Administration to be put through rigorous evaluation, which resulted in about 5,000 hours of testing and 8,000 total cycles. Each cycle is meant to simulate a nominal series of events that would take place during a routine flight, from engine start to shut down, including exposure to ice, dust and debris. The thorough testing ensures the engine can withstand the mechanical and thermal stresses of operation throughout its entire operating range and that no component fatigues to the point of causing engine failure.

In addition to airworthiness certification, the engine is also going through 3,000 hours of ground-based testing to get its Extended Range Twin Engine Operation (ETOPS) authorization. ETOPS certification determines how far a plane can fly on one engine. For example, Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner is approved for ETOPS-330, meaning it can fly routes that put it within a maximum of 330 minutes of flight time to the nearest suitable airport for landing. For the 777X, Boeing is hoping for a high approval close to the A350’s ETOPS-370 standard, allowing it to take on long-haul routes…”


sand ingestion

GE to perform GE9X sand-ingestion tests in 2021

“GE Aviation in 2021 will kick off a GE9X test programme intended to validate the powerplant’s durability when operating in sandy, dusty conditions.

One of our biggest focus points has been on sand ingestion,’ says GE9X programme leader Karl Sheldon. ‘The test next year is where we purposefully allow the engine to ingest sand.’

‘The intent of the test is to validate the technology that we put in there, in a full-up operating condition, ‘he adds…”B-777 with GE9X


MORE OPERATIONAL INFORMATION

engine infographic

 

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby: FAA Certifies World’s Most Powerful Jet Engine

“…GE Research, where scientists developed lightweight but heat-resistant materials called ceramic matrix composites. CMCs allow core parts of the GE9X to withstand temperatures as high as 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit — where even the most advanced alloys grow soft. At these searing temperatures, the engine can burn fuel more efficiently, generating more energy and fewer emissions…

GE9X 134inches

 

Another key innovation is the engine’s 134-inch fan, made from sinuous carbon fiber composite blades. Driven by the efficient turbine, the fan is designed to ingest as much air as possible to propel the jet forward. The blades may look alien, but the GE9X will actually use the fourth generation of the GE technology. Composite blades have been serving for two decades on the GE90 and also the GEnx, the engine that the company developed for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner jets.

By the time Sheldon joined GE Aviation in 2007, the company was already experimenting with 3D-printing parts from metal, an approach also known as additive manufacturing…

That development also includes big data and analytics. “With every generation of engines that we’ve introduced over the last decade, the digital connectivity of it has become more and more pronounced, and it culminates with the GE9X and the sensor suite that we have on it,” Sheldon says. “The telemetry that will be available to provide data back to us as an engine manufacturer is really going to be unprecedented. We will have the ability to monitor engine pressures, temperatures, flows. The predictive capability of that engine will exceed anything that we’ve got out there today.”GE9X blades…Another key innovation is the engine’s 134-inch fan, made from sinuous carbon fiber composite blades. Driven by the efficient turbine, the fan is designed to ingest as much air as possible to propel the jet forward. The blades may look alien, but the GE9X will actually use the fourth generation of the GE technology. Composite blades have been serving for two decades on the GE90 and also the GEnx, the engine that the company developed for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner jets.

…the company was already experimenting with 3D-printing parts from metal, an approach also known as additive manufacturing... The just-certified GE9X engine has more than 300 3D-printed parts, including a nozzle designed to further reduce fuel use. “We piggybacked on a lot of technology development that came before us,” Sheldon says. “We were really able to capitalize on lessons learned from what was new only a few years ago.”

That development also includes big data and analytics. “With every generation of engines that we’ve introduced over the last decade, the digital connectivity of it has become more and more pronounced, and it culminates with the GE9X and the sensor suite that we have on it,” Sheldon says. “The telemetry that will be available to provide data back to us as an engine manufacturer is really going to be unprecedented. We will have the ability to monitor engine pressures, temperatures, flows. The predictive capability of that engine will exceed anything that we’ve got out there today.”

…The certification process involved nine different engines, the first of which GE Aviation began testing on land in Peebles, Ohio, in 2017. Precisely prescribed by regulators, the regimen involved water, hail and bird ingestion, as well as a so-called blade-out, where the team exploded a blade inside the engine while it was running at high speed. The engine torture culminated in the “triple redline test” design to push, overheat and shake the engine as hard as possible — and beyond anything it would encounter in service. “We try to accelerate any type of fatigue mode that might be there and really push the engine beyond where it would ever expect to be in the field, just to make sure we got everything figured out,” Sheldon says.

After pushing a test engine through thousands of simulated takeoffs and landings in various conditions, the team took it apart to inspect each component, down to individual nuts and bolts. “We lay out everything that can be physically separated,” Sheldon says. “Imagine an area almost as large as a football field where every little part is put on a table, cleaned, inspected and reported on.”

After Peebles, one of the engines was loaded onto a truck and driven across the country to Victorville, California. There in the high Mojave Desert, it went through further tests on GE Aviation’s flying testbed. Finally, last year, GE started shipping the engines to Boeing, where they powered the planemaker’s four 777X test planes — which will also require their own certification. The 777X, which in one configuration will be able to carry more than 420 passengers, is scheduled to enter service in the first half of 2022. GE has received orders and commitments for more than 600 GE9X engines

[1] One assumes that ANE-150 issued the Certificate for this huge powerplant.

TEST PLANE WITH GE9X



 

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2 Comments on "GE9X: a BIG Certification TEST for FAA and GE"

  1. I noticed that GE has a TC and PC ODA. I saw no overt mention of it. I wonder if it (the ODA) was directly involved with the new cert, and if so, was it the first since the Max issues arose?

    • Sandy Murdock | October 5, 2020 at 2:43 pm | Reply

      excellent point. I tried but failed to discover whether an ODA was employed on the GE9X. It however appears that Boeing’s ODAs are being used on the B777 and B787 projects.

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