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ANALYSIS: GE opens five-year development effort for 777X engine

Boeing's selection of the General Electric GE9X for all three proposed variants of the still-unlaunched 777X begins a five-year campaign for the engine manufacturer to test and certificate a new product featuring several new advances in gas turbine technology and capability.

GE's preliminary development plan for the GE9X calls for certification in May 2018 on a common core, with a slightly more than 100,000lb-thrust variant to power the 777-9X, a roughly 90,000lb-thrust variant to power the smaller 777-8X and another variant to power the ultra-long-range 777-8LX, says Bill Millhaem, the GE9X programme manager.

That development schedule means the first 777X is unlikely to enter service before mid-2019, as there is usually at least a one year gap between engine certification and aircraft certification. Millhaem's comments also clarify that the 777-8LX concept, featuring a 17,550km (9,480nm) range, remains in Boeing's long-term plans for the re-engined and re-winged widebody.

Boeing is still refining the design and business case for the 777X ahead of asking the company's board for authority to launch the programme. Technically, GE was selected as Boeing's engine partner on 777X studies.

"We are aggressively moving forward per our plan and working with our customers on the requirements," Boeing says. "While we haven't set a firm timeline or launched the programme, we've consistently talked about a potential [entry-into-service] around the end of the decade."

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