If General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) has a bright spot as its stock price continues to decline, it is that the Aviation segment has been providing solid revenues and profits while the company’s Power segment struggles. Not a good time for a glitch in the Aviation group.
Aviation Week & Space Technology reported Friday that GE’s GE9X jet engine that will power Boeing Co.’s (NYSE: BA) new 777X passenger jet has discovered a “minor design issue” in the new engine and some maintenance-related problems with the company’s CF6 engines that power the company’s 747-400 flying testbed.
GE has delayed the first flight of the GE9X engine, but the company said the delay does not affect the schedule for the engine’s certification or it first flight, currently targeted for February of next year.
GE said it is working with Boeing to “protect the schedule.” GE had hoped for a first flight by the end of this year.
According to the Aviation Week report, the lever arms that actuate rows of variable stator vanes (VSV) need to be changed. The report goes on:
Although no further details of the specific problem with the VSV arms have emerged, they are believed to be associated with the discovery of exceedance loads on part of the design. As this is an external mechanism on the outside of the [high-pressure compressor] case, it means GE is faced with developing a mechanical fix rather than a far more serious—and complex—problem concerning flows inside the engine.
The problem was found during test runs of the second GE9X engine, while the fourth engine is the one mounted on the flying testbed. The testbed engine was scheduled to meet an official Federal Aviation Administration test later this year that runs the engine at “triple red-line conditions (maximum fan speed, maximum core speed and maximum exhaust gas temperature) to evaluate the engine at its operational limits.”
This photo shows the GE9X mounted on the 747-400 flying test bed.
GE is currently building three-more of the engines, bringing the total to eight. Two engines are undergoing testing at other GE facilities.
GE stock trade down about 1% early Monday morning to $15.47, after posting a new 52-week low of $15.44. The stock’s 52-week high is $30.59, and the consensus 12-month price target is $19.23.