Aviation History

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Aviation History



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From the turbosupercharger to the world's most powerful commercial jet engine, GE's history of powering the world's aircraft features more than years of innovation. This booster, or turbosupercharger, installed on a piston engine, used the engine's exhaust gases to drive an air compressor to boost power at higher altitude. GE accepted the challenge first, but another team also requested the chance to develop the turbosupercharger.

Contracts were awarded in what was the first military aircraft engine competition in the U. Under wartime secrecy, both companies tested and developed various designs until the Army called for a test demonstration. In the bitter atmosphere of Pikes Peak, 14, feet above sea level, GE demonstrated a horsepower, turbosupercharged Liberty aircraft engine and entered the business of making airplanes fly higher, faster and with more efficiency than ever before.

That mountaintop test of the first turbosupercharger landed GE's first aviation-related government contract and paved the way for GE to become a world leader in jet engines. For more than two decades, GE produced turbosuperchargers that enabled aircraft, including many in service during World War II, to fly higher, with heavier payloads. The company's expertise in turbines and turbosuperchargers figured into the U. Army Air Force's decision to select GE to develop the nation's first jet engine. Since then, the aircraft engines division of GE Aviation has scored many firsts.

Among them: America's first jet engine, the first turbojet engines to power flights at two and three times the speed of sound, and the world's first high bypass turbofan engine to enter service. As a leader in aviation technology, GE Aviation continues to design, develop and manufacture jet engines, components and integrated systems for military, commercial and business and general aircraft as well as aero-derivative gas turbines for marine applications. In addition, GE Aviation is the world's leading integrated engine maintenance resource.

Because principles and challenges in turbosuperchargers apply to gas turbines as well, GE was a logical choice to build America's first jet engine. In , the U. The thrust rating of the I-A was 1, pounds; the thrust rating of the GEB is more than 90 times as great at , pounds. The I-A engine incorporated a centrifugal-flow compressor, as did the increasingly more powerful engines developed by GE during the next two years, culminating in the J33 engine, which was rated at 4, pounds of thrust. The J33 powered the U. Army Air Corps' first operational jet fighter, the P Shooting Star, to a world's speed record of miles per hour in Before the end of that year, a GE J35 engine powered a Douglas D Skystreak to a record-breaking miles per hour.

The J35 was the first GE turbojet engine to incorporate an axial-flow compressor--the type of compressor used in all GE engines since then. However, the Air Corps, concerned about disrupting supplies of turbosuperchargers, placed production of GE's jet engines with other manufacturers. GE then set about designing another. The resulting J47 put GE back in the business of building jet engines. But demand for the J47 to power almost all the new front-line military aircraft, particularly the F Sabre Jet, meant the Lynn plant could not keep up. GE needed a second factory. GE formally opened the plant on February 28, , with the second J47 production line, to complement the original line at Lynn.

Later, the plant would be known as Evendale and would become GE Aviation's world headquarters. With the Korean War boosting demand, the J47 became the world's most produced gas turbine. More than 35, J47 engines were delivered by the end of the s. That engine scored two major firsts: it was the first turbojet certified for civil use by the U. Civil Aeronautics Administration- and the first to use an electronically controlled afterburner to boost its thrust. The war created a boom environment.

Employment at GE's Evendale facility experienced a- ten-fold increase, from 1, to 12, people in 20 months, requiring a tripling of manufacturing space. In , GE announced that the Evendale plant would be one of the world's truly great jet engine centers in peace and war. In , the Evendale manufacturing complex, virtually empty just six years earlier, was designated as GE's production facility for large jet engines while its sister plant in Lynn, Massachusetts, focused on developing and producing small jet engines.

GE rapidly grew its jet engines business thanks to the industrialization of the most produced combat engine, the J47, with more than 35, manufactured. As the need for more power for the Century Series fighters, which would fly at more than twice the speed of sound, GE responded with one of the most important developments for the jet engine, the variable stator for its J79 turbojet engine. The movable stator vanes in the engine helped the compressor cope with the huge internal variations in airflow from takeoff to high supersonic speeds. Meanwhile, GE was busy a new gas turbine to transform helicopter capability. That engine, which first ran in the s, was the precursor of Lynn's small engine product line. The s and s saw further advances.

Six 28, lb thrust turbojets propelled the , lb demonstrator to three times the speed sound at an altitude of 74, feet. A major success of the period was the Lynn-manufactured J85 turbojet engine. The F-5 soon became the standard air defense aircraft for more than 30 nations. Marine Corps and several international militaries. When the U. Navy needed a durable and efficient engine to power the Lockheed S-3 Viking for carrier based anti-submarine warfare, GE responded with the TF34 high bypass engine. The TF34 was also selected by the U. Advances in compressor, combustor and turbine knowledge in the s led to the decision to propose a more compact core engine with a single-stage turbine and only two bearing areas versus three, resulting in the GE F engine, selected for the U.

Air Force's B-1 bomber. In the early s, the Army turned to GE for an improved turboshaft engine to power its new generation of helicopters. The result was the legendary T Capitalizing on the lessons of the Vietnam War, the T provided the Army exceptionally reliable power built using a revolutionary modular architecture. The modular T was designed for field maintainability to drive down costs and improve Army helicopter readiness rates. Over the ensuing decades, multiple advanced technology upgrades were introduced for the T Also, the Tderived, CT7 turboshaft and turboprop engine family was introduced for the commercial market. Since their introduction more than 40 years ago, the T and CT7 variants continue to establish new applications as one of the among popular turboshaft and turboprop engine families in aviation history.

The role of GE military engines continued to grow during the defense buildup of the s. A derivative of the F, the F, powers the U. Air Force B-2 stealth bomber and U-2S high altitude reconnaissance aircraft. The F is the world's most ubiquitous fighter engine, with more than 3, powering 10 aircraft types worldwide. GE is positioned to be a world leader in military propulsion well into the 21st century. GE Aviation has the capability to increase F durability and thrust by as much as 25 percent. GE first received funding to begin developing a competitive engine for the Joint Strike Fighter JSF in and ultimately teamed with Rolls Royce for the full-scale development contract.

By the next decade, the adaptive cycle also called variable cycle engine could revolutionize jet fighters. The variable cycle engine alternatives between a high-thrust mode for maximum power and a high-efficiency mode for optimum fuel savings and greater aircraft range. Marine Corps. The T is being designed as a replacement for the T engine powering existing Black Hawk and Apache helicopters through the U. Compared to the most advanced T engines in service, the T provides 25 percent better fuel economy, 35 percent lower acquisition and maintenance costs, 20 percent longer life and as much as 65 percent more power to weight.

Building on the technology of the TF39 military engine, GE moved aggressively into the civil market in with a derivative engine, the CF high bypass turbofan engine, on the Douglas DC The CF6, in service since , continues to add to its impressive record of flight hours, more than any other commercial aircraft engine ever accumulated. To put that in perspective, it is the equivalent of one engine running 24 hours a day, days a year for more than 26, years.

The CFC2 engine, which entered service in , has set new standards of reliability in commercial service and has been instrumental in the rise of GE as a leading supplier of large commercial engines. Perhaps the greatest compliment afforded the CFC2 was the U. The CF6 engine family, in service since , continues to add to its impressive record of flight hours, more than any other high-thrust commercial jet engine ever accumulated. To put that in perspective, it is the equivalent of one engine running 24 hours a day, days a year, for more than 28, years.

In , Safran Aircraft Engines formerly Snecma of France selected GE as a partner to develop a new turbofan engine in the 20, pound thrust class. CFM proved that patience is a virtue as the joint company did not receive its first order until , when the CFM turbofan was selected to re-engine the DC-8 Series 60 aircraft, renamed the DC-8 Super 70s. With these landmark orders, the CFM56 was on its way. The original CFM would go on to power more than commercial and military aircraft worldwide. The CFM would experience an aggressive production run for more than 20 years. Military Movies. Free PC Flight Games. Paper Airplanes. Sonic Boom Facts. Flight Tracker Live. CVR Audio Files. Aviation Wallpapers. Aircraft Cockpit Photos. Canadian Military Rank.

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