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GE made big news with its advanced turboprop engine built from 3D-printed parts at this week’s EAA AirVentures fly-in in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. But GE technology has been popping up all over at the massive airshow, which attracts 10,000 pilots and half a million visitors. We walked miles up and down the runways to find the best examples. It turned out to be a stroll through GE’s aviation history. Here’s the haul.
Top and above: GE Aviation got its start by building turbosuperchargers for planes like these beautifully restored B-25 Mitchells.
GE turbosuperchargers pressurized the air entering engines, allowing planes like this Boeing B-29 to fly at high altitudes.
The engines on this World War II-era Boeing B-17 have GE turbosuperchargers inside.
GE experience with turbosuperchargers, which are essentially high-pressure gas turbines, allowed the company to develop the first U.S. jet engine in 1942. Five years later, it was making engines like the J-47, which powered tens of thousands of planes, including this F-86 Sabre
GE's first supersonic engine was the J-79. The engine was developed by aviation pioneer Gerhard Neumann and powered many different aircraft, including this F-4 Phantom.
These are the engine thrusters on the F-4 Phantom. Neumann developed special variable vanes for the compressor that controlled the amount of air flowing into the engine and allowed planes to break Mach 2 speed. The technology is still used in GE’s latest jet engines, such as the GE9X, the world’s largest, as well as in massive power generation equipment like the HA turbine, the world’s most powerful gas turbine.
This mean-looking A-10 Warthog jet carries a pair of GE's TF34 engines.
The cilivian version of the engines, CF34, power many regional and commuter jets, including Bombardier and EMBRAER planes.
GE still powers fighter jets. This F-16 uses a supersonic F110 engine and can reach Mach 2. Here the plane is flying during an afternoon airshow with a P-51 Mustang.
But it was engines like the TF39 found on the massive C-5 Galaxy military transporters that allowed GE to enter the commercial space. The C-5M Super Galaxy that visited Oshkosh uses four GE CF-6 jet engines. Unveiled in the 1970s, it was next generation of the TF39 engine.
The CF6 engine unlocked the commercial market for GE. It powers many passenger jets, including this new FedEx Boeing 767 freighter and even President Obama's Air Force One.
This Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-900 uses a pair of CFM-56 engines, build by CFM International, a joint venture between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines of France.
GE also powers helicopters. This U.S. Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk is powered by a pair of GE T700 engines. The same engines also power Apache and Blackhawk helicopters.
The HondaJet uses a pair of HF120 jet engines jointly developed by GE Aviation and Honda. The engine was certified by the FAA last year and is now in production. With 18.5 inches in diameter and 2,095 pounds of thrust, it is the smallest jet engine in GE’s portfolio.
GE is developing an advanced turboprop engine for the Cessna Denali, the next-generation plane that Textron Aviation unveiled this week. It will be GE first turboprop with 3D-printed parts.
Though the engine is a turboprop, GE included technology from jet engines to increase the pressure and temperature inside the compressor and the turbine and extract more work. Pilots will even fly the plane like a jet, controlling the engine and the propeller with a single lever. As a result, the engine will burn up to 20 percent less fuel and achieve 10 percent more power than other engines in the same class.