GE flies second upgrade package for 787 engine

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General Electric is progressing through certification of its performance improvement package (PIP) upgrades for the GEnx-1B and -2B engines for the 787 and 747-8, respectively, marking the first flight of the second -1B improvement package (PIP2) on 1 February.

The PIP2 engine configuration was carried aloft by GE's 747-100 flying test bed from the aircraft's testing base in Victorville, California, said Kevin Kanter, GE Aviation's design and system integration engineering assembly, test and overhaul manager.

The initial US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification of the baseline GEnx-1B configuration paired with the 787-8 is expected in the coming weeks. Air India's Airplane 35, the company's conforming production test bed, will transition to Boeing's flight test and evaluation division at Boeing Field in Seattle this week.

First delivery of the GEnx-1B-powered 787 to Japan Airlines is expected in the coming week. Boeing is close to completing its system functionality and reliability requirements. The delivery was expected in late 2011, but was slowed by final rework to Airplane 35.

The first upgrade package, which features an increase in low pressure turbine (LPT) blades, aims to shave 1.4% off the engine's specific fuel consumption (SFC).

The PIP2 package for the GEnx-1B is scheduled to enter engine certification tests in June or July. Airframe certification testing on the 787 is scheduled to start in September.

Additionally, GE is preparing to complete its FAA icing certification requirements on the 75,000lb-thrust (334kN) PIP2 engine by mid-February at its new Winnipeg, Canada icing facility.

Currently, engine serial number 956103, a certified PIP1 configuration engine, is expected to begin shakedown and certification of the facility this week before 956007, a conforming PIP2 engine, undertakes the trials for certification credit, Kanter said.

The PIP2 engine incorporates changes to the engine's high pressure compressor (HPC) and is expected to receive FAA certification in July, with service entry aboard 787 planned for early-2013. The upgrade is dependent on Boeing's airframe certification pairing flights.

The 747-8's GEnx-2B PIP may not require similar icing requirement, said Kanter, as its core changes pull directly from the 787's PIP1 certified configuration.