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GE and Navy Commit to Reducing Super Hornet SFC

April 01, 2010

LYNN, Mass. -- GE Aviation is teaming with the U.S. Navy to develop and adopt technologies aimed at reducing the specific fuel consumption (SFC) for the Navy's twin-engine F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fleet. The F414-GE-400 engine powers the F/A-18E/F and E/A-18G aircraft.

Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) awarded a $7.5 million contract to GE in 2009, designating the F414-GE-400 engine for this Near Term Energy Efficiency Technology Demonstration and Research Project (under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009). NAVAIR issued a $7.34 million modification in Feb. to continue the progress of this key initiative.

The crux of this effort is the demonstration of new technologies, with the goal of reducing the specific fuel consumption of the F414 engine by three percent. NAVAIR has also asked GE to estimate the cost of incorporating the fuel-saving technologies into the F/A-18 fleet in the shortest timeframe.

Under this program, GE Aviation is manufacturing a single engine to demonstrate the fuel-saving technologies, and will conduct engine testing to quantify the amount of fuel savings for the technologies in combination as well as individually.

"We are excited about teaming with the Navy and infusing 'green' technology into the F414 and providing cost-savings to the customer," said GE Engineering leader Dale Carlson.

Advanced engine components that will be demonstrated include an advanced six-stage compressor, a high-pressure turbine featuring advanced air-cooling, new-design low-pressure turbine blades, a performance-seeking control, and afterburner exhaust nozzle area optimization.

Incorporation of SFC improvement technologies in the Navy's F414 engine could result in an estimated projected annual fuel savings of nearly 2 million gallons.

In addition, GE Aviation is working with the U.S. Navy to test and qualify the use of a 50/50 blend of biofuel and JP5 for the F414 engine, in support of the Navy's wide-ranging initiative to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. The F414 engine recently ran successfully on a 50/50 blend of biofuel and JP5 fuel in a GE test cell, and additional component and rig testing is nearing completion. The Navy plans to flight test the Super Hornet aircraft with F414 engines installed using the biofuel blend in April 2010. The Super Hornet will be the first tactical Navy aircraft to be operated using a biofuel blend.

The USN currently has an active fleet of more than 400 Super Hornets, plus 21 EA-18G Growler electronic-attack aircraft. The F414 engine for the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G is rated at 22,000 pounds (98 kN) thrust and is in the 9:1 thrust-to-weight ratio class. The U.S. Navy has taken delivery of over 1,000 F414 engines with more than 1,300,000 engine flight-hours accumulated to date.

GE Aviation, an operating unit of GE (NYSE: GE), is a world-leading provider of commercial and military jet engines and components as well as integrated digital, electric power, and mechanical systems for aircraft. GE Aviation also has a global service network to support these offerings.

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