GE Aviation’s GE9X, the world’s largest engine, contains a composite fan more than 11 feet in diameter tucked inside a 14.5 foot nacelle, and weighs 11,545 kilograms. To date, GE Aviation has developed and built 10 of these massive GE9X engines for the new 777X, which first flew earlier this year.
The aerospace industry is one of many that occasionally requires a heavy or outsize cargo shipment like the GE9X on short notice, and Volga-Dnepr Group subsidiary carrier AirBridgeCargo Airlines (ABC) completed its trial loading Jan. 31 of the massive GE9X engine onto the titan of an aircraft, the 747-8F.
But what goes into moving this massive engine?
Such a herculean task necessarily requires cooperation to succeed, and with that in mind, the carrier coordinated the arrival and loading of the engine with GE representatives on site. The engine arrived in Chicago for its first inspection and on-truck fixation. Then, a large team comprised of several ABC and GE employees worked together to position the engine aboard the titanic freighter. Using 20-foot pallets, cranes and other heavy-handling equipment, the team successfully moved the GE9X engine from delivery truck to a pallet within 30 minutes.
Approaching the cavernous entry of the aircraft, the team carefully loaded the engine on board through the side cargo door. With cargo such as this, as the pallet jack elevates the engine toward alignment with the cargo door, mere inches will determine if the hold will accept the offering, so accurate planning and preparation are critical. Employees then worked together to fulfill the intricate dance of pushing the precious cargo into proper position. The team successfully completed onloading in only seven minutes, thanks to effective prior planning. After the engine was tied down in the belly of the 747-8F and all clearances checked, offloading the massive cargo took less than 10 minutes.
Like the aerospace industry, the energy and automotive industries, and militaries around the world, also occasionally require outsize shipments on short notice, which can present major challenges surrounding the loading and moving of goods.
In this feature, Air Cargo World speaks with stakeholders in outsize cargo shipping about how they tackle these unique shipments, and how logistics and aircraft fleets are evolving to meet current and future demand.