The new engine, dubbed the GE9X, isn’t small. Developed for use with the Boeing 777X (wider than the Boeing 737), it’s expected to be the world’s largest jet engine. So, when can you expect to see it in operation? Unfortunately, it won’t be ready for several years, with GE Aviation recently announcing 2020 as the projected date on which the GE9X will become operation. That’s not stopping some aviation companies from ordering it, however. Reports indicate that GE Aviation has received nearly 7000 orders, with a price tag of $28 billion.
The GE9X engine is truly remarkable and analysts expect it will reshape the aviation industry. GE Aviation is producing many of its components using 3D printer technology, including light/heat-resistant materials known as ceramic-matrix composites (CMCs). 3D printers turn digital images and “blueprints” of objects into actual physical objects using base materials. NASA is also experimenting with 3D printing technology, with the space agency hoping to print components for space stations above Earth’s atmosphere.
In addition to the GE9X, GE Aviation is also working on a separate jet engine known as LEAP. Originally developed by CFM International as a joint venture, LEAP also uses 3D printed components. GE Aviation and CFM International have received 12,000 plus orders for the new jet engine, with a value of more than $170 billion. Reports indicate that LEAP was the world’s first jet engine developed for a passenger plane using parts from 3D printers.
GE Aviation says it has already invested $4.3 billion in domestic costs and $1.1 billion abroad to produce the engines. These investments include funds to construct nearly half a dozen new manufacturing facilities in locations such as Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, Indiana and Alabama. Furthermore, GE Aviation is the process of upgrading many of its existing facilities.
When speaking about the project, Colleen Athans of GE Aviation explained by saying the company is working on “highly proprietary technologies” that increase its manufacturing capabilities in the United States.
“GE Aviation is a global company with significant technology capability around the world,” said Colleen Athans, vice president and general manager of the GE Aviation Supply Chain. “At the same time, we are introducing several highly proprietary technologies that are upping our manufacturing capabilities in the United States.”
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