You’re in an aircraft taxiing to the runway. You stop momentarily. Then you hear of the swelling roar of the engines, the aircraft vibrates as it accelerates, pushing you back gently into your seat. The scenery whips by faster and faster until you leave the ground. You’re airborne! All of which would be impossible without the powerful engines.
These extraordinary powerhouses are fascinating, even to those who work with them on a daily basis, which is why we’d like to share some facts about them with you.
1. How powerful is an aircraft engine?
The power of a jet engine is equivalent to that of 28 Formula-1 racing cars. No wonder the grease monkeys and thrust junkies at KLM Engine Services are crazy about them.
2. What is the biggest aircraft engine in the world?
General Electric’s GE90-115B, with a diameter of 3.25 metres, generating 115,000 pounds of thrust, is currently the biggest in the world. You’ll find these big boys hanging under the wings of KLM’s Boeing 777-300s, which are easily recognisable because they are all named after world heritage sites, such as the Yellowstone National Park.
3. It’s like taking your car to the garage, right?
When you buy yourself a new car, the manufacturer recommends that you should have it serviced regularly. It’s up to you, the owner, to decide whether you heed this advice. But that’s not the case in aviation. Maintenance, checks, modifications – they’re all mandatory. Airworthiness authorities like the FAA or EASA closely monitor KLM and other aircraft operators to ensure that all maintenance is done on time and as instructed.
And whereas car maintenance is based on distance driven, aircraft maintenance is based on flight cycles and hours flown.
4. What is a flight cycle?
Engine life is measured in flight hours and flight cycles. One cycle = one take-off + one landing,
So, a one-way flight from Amsterdam to New York amounts to around 8 flight hours and 1 cycle (i.e. one take-off in Amsterdam + one landing in New York). A roundtrip between Amsterdam and New York would amount to 16 hours and 2 cycles.
5.When does an engine need servicing?
Every engine must undergo minor or major maintenance after a set number of flight cycles. This varies depending on the engine type. For instance, the CF6-80E, which powers KLM’s Airbus A330s, requires major maintenance approximately every 7,300 cycles and minor maintenance every 200 to 400 cycles.
6. Just how big is the “garage”?
Our “garage” is as big as six football fields, approximately 40,000 square metres.
7. How long does it take to disassemble and reassemble an engine?
KLM has its own maintenance department and its own Engine Shop where jet engines are maintained and overhauled. There’s a reserve engine for every type that KLM operates, which means they can be immediately replaced if maintenance is required. Our technical crews can replace an engine in around 24 hours.
The engine that has been removed for maintenance – the “dirty engine”, as we call it – is carefully packed and transported to our Engine Shop. Depending on the engine type and the required maintenance, it will be as good as new and ready for flight after 50 to 60 days. It bears mentioning that KLM Engine Services also services engines for other airlines.
8. What does an aircraft engine cost?
That’s an interesting question, but it’s surprising difficult to answer. Most aircraft are fully equipped with engines when purchased, so you could say it’s a package deal. And then there are so many different types of engines, which each have their own thrust rating. Say what? Thrust rating, but let’s leave that for another blog. Roughly speaking, an engine can cost anything from 12 to 35 million dollars.
Impressive right? If there’s anything else you want to know about engines (apart from the secret of thrust rating), please let us know!
It’s quite possible you’ve heard or read this before. We’ve posted this blog in March 2017. So this actually is a repost. But let’s be honest: you can never know too much about jet engines, can you? :-)