6 things you might not know about aircraft engines

As travellers, we all love that aircraft can transport us around the world. A huge reason why the aircraft in our fleet can fly distances of over 14,000km is the engines that power them. Here are some things you might not have known about aircraft engines.

1. How powerful is an aircraft engine? The GE90-115B engine that powers our Boeing 777-300ER develops 115,000Ibs of thrust. That’s roughly equivalent to 200 Formula 1 cars per engine! This engine is powerful and efficient enough to operate our services from Australia to both Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi.

2. Virgin Australia operates the largest airline engine in the world. The GE90-115B is currently the largest commercial turbofan engine in the world. The fan diameter is 135 inches which is almost the same as the fuselage cross section on a Boeing 737!

3. How frequently do aircraft engines need to go in for a service? Engines have daily checks for oil usage and general condition, as well as routine-mandated tasks carried out at regular intervals. Major servicing of modern aircraft engines also varies depending on whether they operate short haul or long haul operations. Engines are generally in service for approximately 30,000 to 40,000 hours of operation, which equates to 7 to 10 years of operations at Virgin Australia.

4. How are scheduled services calculated for aircraft engines? Most services intervals are calculated on flight cycles rather than hours of flying. A flight cycle is counted as 1 take-off and landing, as it’s during take-off when the engines are working their hardest. Because of this, maintenance schedules will vary based on aircraft type, depending on the amount of average daily cycles. For example, our A330 aircraft operate longer domestic flights with only 1 to 3 cycles a day, whereas a Boeing 737 typically operate shorter routes, with 5 to 10 cycles per day.

5. How long does it take to dissemble and reassemble an engine for a full service? A full service of an engine can take approximately 60 to 120 days. When this occurs, the engine is removed from the aircraft. We send our Embraer and Boeing 737 engine to the USA for servicing, and our A330 engines are sent to Singapore or Hong Kong.

6. What are the common aspects of an engine service that you go through each time? Daily inspections will always involve oil checks and visual inspections of the engine, in particular the fan blades. At major service visits, many parts are repaired or replaced such as fan blades and the disks that hold blades in place.

So next time you fly with us, make sure to look out the window and take a moment to marvel at the incredible engines that power the aircraft you’re flying on. We look forward to welcoming you on board with us soon.

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