Few people come to New York’s Museum of Modern Art looking for a GE machine part. But here it is. Gleaming in the museum’s Architecture and Design Collection are the graceful curves of a composite blade from the GE90-115B jet engine, the most powerful jet engine ever built. That bit of trivia comes from another surprising source, the Guinness Book of World Records, which in 2003 included the engine for generating 127,900 pounds of thrust. How much is that? Consider that the Redstone rocket that took the first American, Alan Shepard, to space had just 78,000 pounds of thrust, and the combined thrust of all eight engines that power the huge B-52 Stratofortress bomber clocks at 136,000 pounds. The GE90-115B is so big, 128 inches in diameter, a small car can fit inside.
There is no need to trek to a museum to see it. Chances are that you’ve met one on your travels. The engines power long-haul flights spanning the globe, up across the North Pole and sideways between continents. And they are growing in numbers. This week GE Aviation shipped engine No. 1,000 to Boeing, who uses them exclusively for its Boeing 777 aircraft.
Many parts of the engine are made by American workers. The curvy fan blade, for example, comes from a high-tech GE composite plant in San Marcos, Texas. Take a look at our map that flags all the American towns where parts of the engine are made, and lists many other surprising facts. And next time you fly a 777, be sure to look out of the window.