Giants Lifting Giants Into The Sky
The next time you’re getting ready to step into an airplane from the passenger boarding bridge – particularly if the plane is an Airbus A380 – be sure to take time for a close-up look at the engine. We’re usually more focused on getting to our seats and securing space for our hand luggage than looking around. But take the time; it’s worth it.
Even from the boarding bridge, the engines on today’s large planes look huge. Well, that’s because they are. One of the most successful engines lifting the A380 into the sky is the GP7200 engine, and it has a diameter of more than three meters. Even the world’s tallest living human, who is just over 2.5 meters, would look small next to one of these giants.
Given that A380 aircraft carry the largest payloads in aviation history, and have a range of 8,200 nautical miles, it’s no surprise the GP7200 is big.
It was specifically designed for the A380 by the Engine Alliance, a 50-50 joint venture of GE Aviation and Pratt & Whitney. The engine combines the most advanced technologies and materials from each of the company’s most successful jet engines to deliver a state-of-the-art engine.
The result has been a success that even outperformed Engine Alliance’s projections. Since it launched in 2008, the engine has steadily improved its performance, including three separate improvements on fuel efficiency that equal to savings of about $11 million over the life of a single A380. The Engine Alliance has also reduced the weight of each engine by 200 pounds, or 800 pounds per aircraft.
Many of this region’s airlines are powering their A380s aircraft using the GP7200, including Emirates, which began operating GP720—powered A380s this time 5 years ago, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways. In fact, the GP7200 powers more than half of all A380 aircraft now in service. These engines have flown for more than 1.7 million hours and have a 99.9% departure reliability.