Which Airbus Planes Have Used General Electric Engines?

Larger companies like Airbus and Boeing generally dominate the world of aircraft manufacturing. However, a good deal more variety can be found when it comes to the companies that produce engines for these aircraft. General Electric is one such manufacturer, and a strong partnership between the two companies has seen GE provide engines for several Airbus designs. But which ones, exactly?

Airbus A300 American Airlines
The A300 was the first Airbus design to feature General Electric engines. Photo: Getty Images

General Electric in a nutshell

Boston-based General Electric has a rich engineering history that dates back to the late 19th century. It was originally formed in Schenectady, New York on April 15th, 1892. Among its founders were the legendary inventor Thomas Edison, and corporate banker J.P. Morgan. Since then, two of its employees have even been awarded Nobel Prizes (in 1932 and 1973).

Today, it has grown into a multinational conglomerate boasting over 200,000 employees. Despite the economic challenges faced in 2020 brought on by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Fortune ranked GE as the US’s 33rd largest company by gross revenue. One of its divisions, GE Aviation, is a leading engine supplier, whose work we shall now examine further.

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General Electric Testbed
General Electric has used multiple Boeing 747s as engine testbed aircraft. Photo: Gordon Werner via Flickr

Which Airbus models have used GE engines?

General Electric first ran its CF6 engine family in 1971, and, within four years, Airbus had utilized it on its first jetliner, the A300. This European widebody would see several different iterations of the CF6 used on its over the years. The first example used in 1974 was the CF6-50A, which was followed the next year by the CF6-50C. 1976 also saw the A300 use the GE CF6-50CR. Several further iterations also saw use, with the last being the CF6-80C2A5 in 2002.

The A310 was a short-fuselage A300 derivative produced by Airbus between 1981 and 1998. Over the years, this aircraft featured GE engines such as the CF6-80A3, CF6-80C2A2, and CF6-80C2A8 models. Meanwhile, the larger and more modern A330 has been powered by the likes of the CF6-80E1A2, CF6-80E1A3, and CF6-80E1A4 designs.

General Electric CF6
Three Airbus designs used General Electric CF6 engines. Photo: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons

Reduced collaboration in recent years

You may have noticed that none of the aircraft in question belong to Airbus’s more recent families. The A330 has since been developed into the next-generation A330neo, but these aircraft instead sport the Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines. These have been produced exclusively to power the A330neo, and a similar deal is in place for the A350. This next-generation twinjet is powered by another exclusive Rolls-Royce engine design, known as the Trent XWB.

The new A320neo family has a choice of engines, from either the CFM International LEAP or the Pratt & Whitney PW1000G families. Of course, CFM is a joint venture between GE and Safran, so GE still has a firm foothold in the Airbus family.

Finnair (Marimekko Kivet Livery) Airbus A350-941 OH-LWL
Airbus has struck deals with Rolls-Royce to exclusively provide engines for its A330neo and A350 series. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

The company will also continue to have a presence on Boeing’s next-generation 747-8 and 787 families with its GEnx powerplants. Similarly, it is set to power the upcoming 777X series with its GE9X engines. This collaboration will see GE remain an industry leader for years to come.

Have you ever flown on a General Electric-engined Airbus plane? If so, when did you do so, and where did the flight take you? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

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