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These Jet Engines Will Power the Next Air Force One

Future U.S. presidents will get a big new plane with the big new job. The U.S. Air Force has announced that Boeing’s next-generation 747-8 passenger jet, powered by GE engines, will replace the existing version of presidential plane popularly known as Air Force One.

“The presidential aircraft is one of the most visible symbols of the United States of America and the office of the president of the United States,” said Deborah James, secretary of the Air Force. James said that the 747-8 plane, which entered service in 2011, was the only aircraft manufactured in the U.S. that met “the necessary capabilities established to execute the presidential support mission.”


Above: A Boeing 747-8 during take-off. Image credit: Dave Subelack Top: A GEnx-1B engine at the Dubai Airshow. The GEnx is the fastest selling engine in GE history. Image credit: Adam Senatori

Bloomberg reported that the Air Force was seeking to acquire three 747-8 jets to replace the existing trio of 747-200B aircraft, whose 30-year service life will expire in 2017.

The new planes will be modified and outfitted with special avionics,  navigation and communications technology. Boeing says that the current Air Force One can refuel in the air, and holds a 4,000-square-foot “flying Oval Office” and two galleys that can provide 100 meals at one sitting.


Air Force One at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. Image credit: Alex Lloyd, USAF

Each of the 747-8 planes will use four GEnx-2B engines. The engines share architecture with the GE90, the most powerful jet engine ever built, but they are lighter and more efficient. Together with its sibling GEnx-1B engine powering the Dreamliner, the three engines are the only commercial jet engines with light-weight carbon-fiber composite fan blades.

As as result this and other innovations, the new engines burn up to 15 percent less fuel and cut CO2 emissions by the same amount, compared to the CF6 engines powering the current Air Force One fleet. They are also more quiet.

In 2011, a GEnx-1B-powered Dreamliner flew halfway around the world on a tank of gas, and finished the job on the next tank. The journey set a weight-class distance record for the first leg stretching 10,337 nautical miles.


A GEnx-1B engine suspended from a Dreamliner jet. The engine has the best fuel burn in its class. Image credit: Adam Senatori

GE continues to evolve its engines. A future model of the GE90, called GE9X, will include 3-D printed components and parts from light, strong and heat-resistant materials called ceramic matrix composites, which promise to improve the gains further.


The GE90-115B is the most powerful jet engine ever built. It generated 127,900 pounds of thrust. That’s more than the combined total horsepower of the Titanic (46,000 pounds) and the Redstone rocket (76,000 pounds) that took the first American to space. Image credit: GE Aviation

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