Edwards AFB, 1958
Back to Edwards, this time to General Electric’s flight test facilities. Parked outside the hangar are a McDonnell F-101A Voodoo, Douglas F4D-1 Skyray, Grumman F11F-1F Super Tiger, Lockheed YF-104A Starfighter, North American F-86D Sabre, Boeing B-47A Stratojet, and a Vought RGM-15 Regulus II missile. Also just visible at the far right in back is another F4D, one of the XF4D-1 prototypes being used as a spares donor.
General Electric formed its Aircraft Engines subsidiary in 1917, initially researching and producing turbosuperchargers. It was this expertise that led to GEAE being granted a license to produce Frank Whittle’s W.1 jet engine in the US starting in 1942. By 1944, an improved version, the I-40 (later called J33), was powering Lockheed P-80 Shooting Stars. Though the AAF canceled its contract with GE for further production of the J33 in favor of Allison, GE pressed on with development of jet engines, leading to the J47, which was the first axial-flow turbojet approved for use in the US, and which powered many 1st generation jet aircraft. The J47 production run was 30,000 units by 1956, and the design was refined first into the J73, used solely in the F-86H, and then into the mighty J79. GE also developed the smaller J85 turbojet, used in such aircraft as the T-38/F-5, A-37, T-2 and CL-41. Also developed by the company were the T58 and T64 turboshaft engines, utilized in many military and civilian helicopters, and the T700 turboshaft, which was developed into the CT7 turboprop.
GEAE later began work on high-bypass turbofan engines for the military and civilian markets, including the CF6 used on L1011, DC-10 and 747 airliners, the CF34 used in many regional jets, and, along with SNECMA of France under the CFM Int’l partnership, the CFM56 still in widespread use today.
Renamed GE Aviation in 2005, the company still produces many cutting edge afterburning turbofans for military service, including the F110, F404 and F414, as well as low- and high- bypass turbofans for multiple markets, as well as turboprop and turboshaft engines, and have begun incorporating 3D printing technologies into their manufacturing processes,