Time to “Take Off” with This News
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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

When boarding an airplane, whether it is for a quick flight or a jaunt around the globe, one of the first thoughts that tend to be on everyone’s minds is about the seating arrangements. Where is my seat? Am I a window or the aisle? Please don’t let me be the dreaded middle seat! All of these are probably going through the heads of many passengers while boarding. But do you ever stop to consider what powers these flying mechanisms? No, we’re not talking about fuel; we’re talking about the electrical systems airplanes need to operate. In the case of Boeing airplanes, the systems are substantial.

In December 2014, it was announced that Boeing had chosen General Electric, more specifically GE Aviation, as the company to provide the electrical systems in their 777X airplanes. The 777Xs are twin-aisle planes that Boeing claims to be the “largest and most-efficient twin-jet engine in the world” that were first introduced in 2013. But as these planes are so large and require different standards than other planes do, Boeing needed an expert who could help with the electrical systems for the 777X.

GE Aviation was chosen as the company to provide the Electrical Load Management System (ELMS) for these specific aircrafts, as well as provide the backup generator and backup converter. Not exactly the same as the electrical systems we work with, but the ELMS is a powerful system. What exactly does the system do? You may be asking yourself. A valid question that we found the answer to.

The ELMS will use elements from the Boeing 777 aircraft, as this will help with overall maintenance and can improve the dependability on both aircraft. But as the 777X is a larger plane, the ELMS will have to be larger than its 777 counterpart too. This system GE Aviation is working on is said to be able to handle main power as well as auxiliary power unit generators up to 30 percent higher than what is on the 777’s system. Secondary panels will be added in order to deliver power to the power subscribers more efficiently.

As the Boeing 777 has had 20 years of successful operation, this is a logical choice on which to base the 777X’s system. Though we’re barely into 2015, the technological advancements that have already been made in this century and that will be worked into the 777X can help provide better and more efficient aircraft for the future. This specific ELMS for the 777X is going to be designed in such a way that it won’t be obsolete in just a few years. Boeing and GE Aviation have created an ELMS that can be expanded for new capabilities and even for potential growth into other future aircraft. Who knows, perhaps a new type of fuel will be used soon that could elements from this system to operate?

All of the developments GE Aviation and Boeing are making for this new super aircraft will be underway at the Electric Power Integration Center in Cheltenham, United Kingdom. But that’s not the only place where the inner workings of this airplane will be developed. GE will also be using their Electrical Power Integrated Systems Center in Dayton, Ohio. (A bit closer for those of us who are stateside.) So if you’ve ever found yourself boarding a plane for a business trip or are heading to an exotic location for vacation and have thought about how the electrical systems in a plane work, you now know a bit more!

(NOTE: Information for this post was gathered from Business Wire and Boeing.)

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