The General Electric/Pratt & Whitney-led Engine Alliance GP7200 engine for the Airbus A380 ultralarge aircraft received certification from the US Federal Aviation Administration this week (4 January). Airbus aims to start flight tests of a GP7200-powered A380 in Toulouse in the second quarter.
Eight examples of the powerplant, which has captured around 55% of the A380 market share, have undergone 21 months of tests, together running around 7,000 cycles. The FAA performed 25 full-scale engine certification tests and more than 50 component tests. Its initial certification approves thrust of 76,500lb (340kN), although the engine reached 94,000lb in tests and is forecast to be eventually certificated at around 81,500lb, says Engine Alliance president Bruce Hughes.
"We put the GP7200 through as tough a test regime as any engine has ever faced," he says. The engine was tested to more stringent large extended-range twin engine operations (ETOPS) standards, despite its intended use on the four-engined A380, he adds.
The GE-P&W joint venture delivered four GP7200s to Airbus in September last year and anticipates installation onto the MSN009 prototype to start within weeks. The testbed was scheduled to perform first flight in April, already revised back several months due to unavailability of Airbus test aircraft. The FAA certification of the engine, expected last month, was delayed by several weeks over the Christmas and New Year holiday period and it is unknown whether this will have a knock-on effect. Its rival the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 received certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency in October 2004.
The GP7200 was selected by launch customer Emirates, which is expecting to take delivery of its first aircraft in 2007. The GP7000 programme also includes MTU, Snecma and TechSpace Aero as partners.
Read the A380’s test programme update, part of flightinternational.com’s A380 Focus.