Come Baseball-Size Hail and 800 Gallons of Water: Where Jet Engines Endure Agony Before They Can Fly

August 14, 2014

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Crews at GE Aviation’s jet engine boot camp in Peebles, Ohio, feed some 800 gallons of water every minute into the maw of a GEnx engine during a water ingestion test. The test is just one of many trials jet engines must endure to win an FAA certification.

They also get hit by baseball-size hail and suffer from all kinds of extreme weather and abusive flight conditions they’ll likely never encounter in service. Take a look:

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The water ingestion test blasts 800 gallons of water per minute inside a GEnx engine running at full thrust.

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Engines must also power through icy spray. The GEnx engine below is facing tons of water and ice in minus 8 degrees Fahrenheit at a testing facility in Winnipeg, Canada.

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The crew at Peebles also blasts the engines with buckets of hail and tests the strength of the composite fan blades by shooting large ice balls at them from a special gun.

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After water and ice trials, jet engines graduate to actual flight tests. The GE90-115B is the world’s most powerful jet engine. It has more horsepower than the rocket that took to space the first American, Alan Shepard. Its takeoff thrust can make chunks of concrete go airborne outside the runway at GE’s flight test center in Victorville, Ca.image

GE’s smaller engines can also do extreme things. This Czech-made L-410 plane flies to the world’s most dangerous airport in Lukla, Nepal. It’s powered by the company’s H80 turboprop engine.

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