Giant engine program takes shape

Giant engine program takes shape

MTU participates in the GE9X engine for the new “Triple Seven”

When executive officers of GE, MTU Aero Engines, IHI Corporation, Safran Aircraft Engines and Safran Aero Boosters met at the Farnborough International Airshow in mid-July, they signed a contract that heralds a new era in engine history: the partner contract for the GE9X program. The new engine will be the exclusive power plant for Boeing’s 777X long-haul jetliner, which is scheduled to enter service in 2020.

“Our stake in the GE9X program gives us a significant market share in one of the most important next-generation engines in the upper thrust category”, explains MTU CEO Reiner Winkler. “At the same time, it helps us further balance the mix of our product portfolio,” sais Chief Program Officer Michael Schreyögg. Long-haul commercial aircraft are considered a rapidly growing segment of the airliner market that is only moderately exposed to economic fluctuations. Taken over the life of the program, the workshare will be worth around four billion euros in revenue for MTU.

The GE9X is GE’s bid to achieve the next major innovation in engine design for widebody aircraft. Its eleven-stage compressor will deliver a pressure ratio of 27:1, higher than in any previous commercial aircraft, as GE emphasizes. With new materials, new cooling concepts, the use of ceramic components, improved aerodynamics and fan blades made of a new fiber-resin composite, the designers aim to significantly reduce the GE9X’s specific fuel consumption compared with previous generations. GE’s target is to produce an engine that consumes around 10 percent less fuel than the GE90-115B deployed in the Boeing 777-300ER.

This project’s success lies partly with MTU. Due to its location in the engine, MTU`s component, the Turbine Center Frame (TCF), is exposed to extreme conditions in operation: It ducts the hot gases exiting the high-pressure turbine at temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees Centigrade along structural components and pipes towards the low-pressure turbine, keeping aerodynamic losses at a minimum.

It is no coincidence that GE has entrusted MTU with this extremely sophisticated component. In the past few years, the TCF has become yet another of the company’s core competencies, backed by its experience in the GP7000 and GEnx programs, where MTU was also responsible for the TCF.

To date, Boeing garnered some 300 orders and commitments from six customers worldwide.