GE, StandardAero open new Winnipeg icing site

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General Electric and StandardAero inaugurated a new $50 million Testing, Research and Development Centre (TDRC) in Winnipeg, Manitoba on 1 February. It takes advantage of the region's unique climate and expands GE's capability for icing evaluations.

The facility is located on the grounds of Winnipeg International Airport. GE has partnered with StandardAero, which operates a GE CF34 and CFM International CFM56-7B maintenance facility in Winnipeg, to form a 10-year joint venture to allow the aviation services provider to run the facility until 2021.

The 11,400m² (122,500ft²) facility replaces GE's previous Canadian icing test site at Mirabel Airport near Montreal, Quebec, and features a noise attenuation system, 15.2m-tall (50ft) blast deflection walls, 4.9m diameter engine exhaust augmenter, a 15.5m vertical stack and a 125-nozzle icing array.

Now in its final shakedown and certification period, the facility will first be tasked with icing evaluations for the GEnx-1B's second performance improvement package (PIP2), expected to be completed by mid-month ahead of the FAR part 33 US Federal Aviation Administration certification anticipated in June or July.

The facility's location in Winnipeg provides GE with a longer period during each year in which to conduct icing tests, requiring a temperature range of between -4e_SDgrC and -20e_SDgrC, while providing a location for endurance testing, bird ingestion tests and, once regulatory requirements are defined, ice crystal build-up as well.

The 6.1m centre line single post thrust stand for engine mounting becomes the fifth in GE's testing arsenal, along with the four at its Peebles, Ohio test facility.

An axial translating wind tunnel system, mounted on rails, allows the facility to accept an engine with a fan diameter of up to 381cm (150in) with an output of 150,000lb (667kN) of thrust. It is designed to contain the energy of a blade out event for an engine of that thrust rating.

In the coming years, GE will ramp up its development activity with four separate engine programmes including the Leap family for the Comac C919, Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 Max, Passport 20 for Bombardier's Global 7000 and 8000, and the NG34 and GE9X for regional aircraft and Boeing's conceptual 777-8X/-9X, respectively.