ATLANTA--Delta TechOps opened a $100 million test cell capable of running an engine at 150,000 lb. thrust at its Atlanta facilities, which not only makes it the largest test cell in the world, according to the airline MRO, but it also sets it up for the next 50-100 years because it will be capable of testing engines not even designed.
For reference, each GE Aviation GE90, which powers Delta’s Boeing 777-200LR fleet, produces 115,000 lb. thrust—the highest thrust commercial engine.
The test cell played an important role in Delta expanding into next-gen engine MRO capabilities and gaining 25-year contracts from Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney for their latest engines in the Americas.
In late 2018, Delta become a Rolls-Royce authorized maintenance center for the Trent 1000, which is one of the engines powering the Boeing 787 and provides 53,000-75,000 lb. thrust; the Trent 7000, which powers the Airbus A330neo and delivers 68,000-72,000 lb. thrust; and the Trent XWB that powers the A350 and produces 75,000-97,000 lb. thrust.
Delta TechOps will also support Pratt & Whitney’s geared turbofan engine family as part of the OEM’s MRO network. Delta Air Lines selected the GFT to power is Airbus A220s, the first of which entered service earlier this month, and its A321neos on order.
Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian pointed out the new test cell nearly doubles that of its previously largest one at 68,000-lb. thrust. “This test cell is a vote of confidence in Delta TechOps,” he says.
The test cell is one piece of investment ongoing at the airline MRO. It also is ramping up a hot-section repair shop and has been operating additive manufacturing capabilities for about one year, says Mike Moore, senior VP maintenance operations.
Don Mitacek, senior VP Delta TechOps, says investments like these are physical reminders of the deep innovations and capabilities of Delta TechOps’ workforce. “This isn’t about engine maintenance—it’s about Delta people getting together and making it happen.”
Delta is conducting validation tests for the Trent engines first.