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Freight Of The World: Global Cargo Airline Picks GE Engines To Power New Boeing 747 Jets

Tomas Kellner
February 26, 2021

The global freight carrier Atlas Air Worldwide said on Tuesday a quartet of new Boeing 747-8 freighters it ordered from Boeing in January will be powered by GE jet engines. The deal, which includes engines and overhaul services, is valued at $800 million at list price over the life of the 20-year maintenance contract.

“The 747-8F powered with GEnx engines gives us the best and most versatile widebody freighter in the market,” said John W. Dietrich, Atlas Air Worldwide president and chief executive officer. “Our partnership with GE Aviation supports our longstanding focus on leading edge technology. We look forward to continuing to provide world-class service to our customers.”

Atlas is the world’s largest operator of Boeing 747 freighter aircraft, with 53 of them in its fleet. The Boeing 747-8 is the latest and the most advanced version of the Boeing 747, also known as the Jumbo Jet, which helped redefine air travel over the last half-century.


GE Aviation GEnx-2B
Above: A GEnx-2B engine at GE Aviation's test center in Peebles, Ohio. Image credit: GE Aviation. Top image: An Atlas Air Boeing 747-8.  A new deal between GE and Atlas Air includes engines and overhaul services, is valued at $800 million at list price over the life of the 20-year maintenance contract. Image credit: Atlas Air.


Each of the new planes carries four GEnx-2B jet engines, a close relative of the efficient engines that power another advanced Boeing jet, the 787 Dreamliner. Atlas said its new planes will have 20% higher payload capacity and 16% lower fuel consumption than the previous version, the 747-400.

Airlines and other GE customers have ordered more than 2,500 GEnx engines since they entered service early in the last decade, making it the fastest-selling, high-thrust engine in GE’s history.

The engine owes its popularity, in part, to advanced technologies and materials that helped it achieve the highest reliability and utilization, lowest fuel burn and longest range capable of any engine in its thrust class, according to GE. For example, the GEnx is the world’s first commercial engine with both a carbon fiber composite front fan case and fan blades. The material — which GE first used for fan blades on the GE90 engine — helps make the fan module lighter and corrosion-resistant, simplify maintenance, and improve reliability. GE Aviation has also developed a 3D-printed component for the engine that helps to further reduce its weight. The GEnx is also the quietest engine GE produces.

“The GEnx-2B engines have proven their reliability and durability since entering service almost a decade ago, and GE Aviation is committed to providing full support for these engines long into the future,” said Jason Tonich, vice president and general manager of global sales and marketing at GE Aviation.