California Test Facility Sends "Motherlode" Of Data Back To GE
What was it Grandma
used to tell us? If you want something done right, do it yourself.
That seems to be the philosophy that drives GE's jet engine
operation. Unlike rivals Pratt & Whitney and Rolls Royce, GE
flies its own test bed over the California desert, determined to
see firsthand the results of its experimental work.
"Doing our own flight testing cuts out any interference," said
GE's Plant Leader John Hardell, in an interview with the Desert
News. His operation is based at Southern California Logistics
Airport in Victorvile. His flying laboratory is a Boeing 747 -- one
of the first built for now-defunct Pan Am back in 1970.
Thursday, the graceful 747 looked something less than its usual
self as it flew over Edwards AFB (CA). Mounted on its wings were
three Pratt JT9 engines and GE's newest experimental engine, a
C-34. Among the tests performed was an airstart of the experimental
engine. The turbofan was shut down at 21,000 feet and restarted at
Other operations at
SCLA included tweaking the C-34's FADEC and monitoring performance
with 96 racks of engineering equipment in the aircraft's coach
Four hours after taking off on its successful flight, the 747
test bed rested again on the tarmac under the brilliant desert sun.
The data will be taken back to GE headquarters in Ohio for analysis
and the aircraft will next be fitted with a much more powerful test
engine -- the GP-7200. It's a co-venture between GE and its chief
rival, Pratt & Whitney.
That experience, says Hardell, "will be something really
different." The GP-7200 will be even more powerful than the GE-90,
a 10-foot tall powerplant that put out 115,000 pounds of
"We quite by accident found out that we could turn the nosegear
90 degrees and the 90 would still drive the aircraft forward on the
runway," Hardell told the Desert News. Now, that's some kinda