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On Sept. 1, 1930, a red Breguet 19 Super Bidon biplane took off from Le Bourget, Paris’ then-main airport, and landed in aviation history 37 hours and 12 minutes later at New York’s Curtiss Field. Unlike Charles Lindbergh, who flew nonstop east from New York to Le Bourget in 1927, the pilots Dieudonné Costes and Maurice Bellonte powered through the prevailing headwinds over the Atlantic and completed the more difficult westbound leg between the two cities for the first time.
A lot has changed in nine decades. Le Bourget’s grand art deco terminal is now France’s National Air and Space Museum where exhibits include the Super Bidon as well the retired supersonic Concorde, which would 50 years later shrink that same New York-to-Paris journey to a mere 3.5 hours.
But Le Bourget, as well as that trans-Atlantic route, still make headlines. Every two years, the airfield hosts the Paris Air Show in conjunction with the Farnborough Airshow, the largest industry event in the world. The show ended on Sunday and this year, one of the shows’ main draws was a superefficient single-aisle Airbus A321neo jet, which can fly from the French capital to Newark, New Jersey, just a short ride from Manhattan, on a single tank of fuel. In the past, such jets typically flew shorter routes spanning countries and continents. But the new Airbus plane is powered by ultra-efficient LEAP jet engines developed by CFM International, a 50-50 joint venture between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines, which provide double-digit gains in fuel efficiency and allow the plane to fly further while also lowering carbon emissions, oxides of nitrogen emissions and noise.
The Airbus jet wasn’t the only aircraft at the show relying on GE technology. GE Reports was there, and we walked the tarmac and exhibition halls to see what else was there. Here’s what we found:
Top image: In 1930, a Breguet 19 Super Bidon became the first aircraft to fly nonstop from Paris to New York. Above: For a long time, the route became a domain of large passenger jets. But smaller, fuel-efficient planes like La Compagnie's brand-new Airbus A321neo can now efficiently ferry passengers between the two cities. Images credit: Tomas Kellner for GE Reports.
The A321neo has a pair of efficient LEAP jet engines under its wings. The rapidly growing Indian carrier IndiGo placed the single largest jet engine order in history in Paris last week, ordering LEAP engines to power 280 Airbus A320neo and A321neo aircraft. The contract, which includes spare engines and an overhaul support agreement, is valued at more than $20 billion U.S. at list price. GE and CFM International, the company’s 50-50 joint venture with Safran Aircraft Engines, racked up $55 billion in new deals at the show. Image credit: Alex Schroff for GE Reports.
Boeing and Air Tahiti Nui brought to Paris a brand-new Boeing 787 Dreamliner powered by a pair of GEnx jet engines. At the show, Korean Air and Air Lease Corporation ordered a combined total of 30 GEnx-powered Dreamliners. GE Aviation has sold more than 2,500 GEnx engines since its launch 15 years ago. Image credit: Alex Schroff for GE Reports.
Another plane parked in front of Le Bourget's historic terminal was Bombardier's Global 7500 luxury business jet using two GE Passport jet engines. In March, a Global 7500 jet scored a set of records for the longest mission ever flown by a purpose-built business jet and for speed over the longest range (that milestone is still awaiting validation by the National Aeronautic Association). It covered the 8,152 nautical miles (9,350 miles) between Singapore and Tucson, Arizona, in 16 hours and 6 minutes “with fuel to spare,” according to the plane maker. Image credit: Alex Schroff for GE Reports.
Speaking of business jets, HondaJet flew to Paris with its offering. The plane is powered by a pair of HF120 jet engines jointly developed by GE Aviation and Honda. With 18.5 inches in diameter and 2,095 pounds of thrust, it is the smallest jet engine in GE’s portfolio. For comparison, GE’s largest engine, the GE9X — developed for Boeing's new 777X planes — has a fan that's 134 inches in diameter. It's designed to generate 100,000 pound of thrust. Image credit: Alex Schroff for GE Reports.
GE unveiled the GE9X at its "chalet" at the beginning of the show. “The technologies I’ve worked on are out of this world,” says Ted Ingling, GE Aviation's general manager for the GE9X engine program. Image credit: Tomas Kellner for GE Reports.
Japan's Kawasaki C-2 transport plane uses GE's CF6 engines. Launched in 1971, it’s one of the most common jet engines in the world today, powering all makes of planes, from Boeing 747 jumbo jets — including Air Force One — to Airbus long-haul jets and Beluga cargo lifters. GE has delivered more than 7,000 of the engines to 250 airlines in 87 countries. The newest versions are expected to fly for several more decades. Image credit: Alex Schroff for GE Reports.
Amazon made headlines at the show when it announced an agreement to lease 15 Boeing 737 converted into freighters from GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS). “These new aircraft create additional capacity for Amazon Air, building on the investment in our Prime Free One-Day program,” said Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations at Amazon. “By 2021, Amazon Air will have a portfolio of 70 aircraft flying in our dedicated air network.” Image credit: Alex Schroff for GE Reports.
The Boeings leased to Amazon are powered by the same CFM56 engines as this submarine-hunting Boeing P-8 Poseidon. The CFM56 engine is the LEAP engine's predecessor, accumulating more than 1 billion engine flight hours and has carried over 35 billion people — more than any other jet engine. “That’s like flying the world’s entire population of 7 billion people five times over,” said Gaël Méheust, CFM’s president and CEO. The engine fleet has also flown more than 200 billion miles, the equivalent of 20 round trips to Pluto. Image credit: Tomas Kellner for GE Reports.
GE Aviation also makes helicopter engines. This Apache AH-64 chopper is using a pair of GE T700 engines. In February, the U.S. Department of Defense awarded GE a $517 million contract to manufacture next-generation T901 engines for thousands of Apaches as well as Black Hawk helicopters. Image credit: Alex Schroff for GE Reports.
This Bell 525 Relentless helicopter is using GE's CT7 engines. The same engines can work in extreme conditions, powering fire-fighting as well as rescue helicopters. Image credit: Alex Schroff for GE Reports.
A pair of CT7 engines also powers this Saab 340 twin-engine plane. Image credit: Alex Schroff for GE Reports.
But GE Aviation makes more than just jet engines. The GE unit's digital division develops avionics systems and apps like FlightPulse, a flight analytics tool that helps pilots analyze data and reduce the amount of fuel they burn. “What programs like these do is help the individual see the impact of what they are doing,” says GE Aviation’s Jon Dunsdon. Image credit: Alex Schroff for GE Reports.
The company also makes propellers used by planes like this C-130 Hercules aircraft. Image credit: Alex Schroff for GE Reports.
Engines and other technology lifted CFM and GE to record highs at the Paris Air Show, bringing home $55.3 billion in new deals. Images credit: Alex Schroff for GE Reports.