Boeing will soon receive General Electric GEnx-1B engine-airframe certification for its 787. This achievement is likely to coincide with 330min extended operations (ETOPS) approval, according to Mike Sinnett, 787 chief project engineer of the 330min ETOPS requirements.
ETOPS allows twin-engined airliners to fly long-distance routes.
Boeing will deliver Japan Airlines’ first 787s towards the end of this month (March 2012). The airline will be the launch customer for the GEnx-1B engine inaugurating US service. This new type will be in service in April 2012, servicing the Tokyo-Narita - Boston-Logan route. A 330min ETOPS certification is not required for this route, even though the aircraft will be certified to fly routes that require a diversion airport between 3 hours and 5 hours 30 minutes flying time.
GE stated that its GEnx-1B engine pairing certification with 787 will consist of both its Performance Improvement Package (PIP1) configurations and baseline Block 4. PIP1 will account for a 1.4% enhancement in fuel consumption, owing to an increase in the number of low-pressure turbine (LPT) blades.
GE stated that the first batch of Japan Airlines’ 787s will be fitted with PIP1 configuration engines.
United Airlines will have its six 787s delivered during the course of this year, and the airline will be the first carrier to need the 330min requirement for creating the most optimal routing between its Houston, Texas hub and Auckland, New Zealand.
While the 180min approval for Trent 1000-powered 787s was granted before it got into service in October 2011, the final approval for the 330min certification required some "software adjustment" in order to meet US FAA regulatory criteria. The completed airframe tests will now allow airframe approvals beyond the initial 180min airframe certification.
Meanwhile, Airplane 35, a 787 for Air India, completed its GEnx-1B certification testing flight on 23 February 2012.