AFI KLM E&M starts operating new engine test cell

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Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance (AFI KLM E&M) has officially opened its engine test cell for large powerplants at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.

The Franco-Dutch maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) provider has newly built the facility for €40 million ($52m) to test-run engines with up to 150,000lb (669kN) of thrust. But thus far it has only been used for a number of certification trials to gain EASA and FAA approval.

AFI KLM E&M says the site - dubbed 'Zephyr', which translates to gentle breeze - will initially be used to test General Electric GE90-94 and -115 engines employed on the Boeing 777. Other types will be added in the near future, including CFM International CFM56 medium-sized engines for 737s and Airbus A320s at the end of this year, and the Engine Alliance GP7000 for the A380 in 2014.

The MRO company expects to test "more than 300" engines a year from 2013, including around 100 very large engines such as the GE90 and GP7000.