This weird-looking plane isn't a joke

Commentary: When GE tests a new engine, it mounts it on an old plane. The GE9X is a lot bigger than a 747's existing engines.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

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Which engine is not like the others?

GE/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

With so much fake news slithering around the web all year, is it still possible to enjoy April Fools' Day?

Or was April 1 ever that enjoyable?

The day does, though, underline how everyone now has to nourish their skepticism at all times.

Here, for example, is a video of a Boeing 747-400 taking off. But something doesn't look quite right. One engine looks far bigger than the others.

Is this someone's idea of humor? 

Not at all.

For one, the video was released two weeks ago. No company's fine marketing department starts April Fools' jokes that far off.

Instead, this celebrates GE Aviation's March 13 maiden test of its new GE9X engine, one that is set to power Boeing's new 777X planes.

As GE said in a press release: "The aircraft and engine completed the entire test card and validated key operational and functional characteristics enabling the test campaign to progress in subsequent flights."

The engine looks strange because it's bigger than a 747's. A 747 has a fan with a diameter of 105 inches (8.75 feet).

The GE9X's front fan is 134 inches (11.16 feet) in diameter -- two-third's of the height of Michelangelo's statue of David, as GE was once thrilled to point out. It also said that its new engine is more powerful than American's first manned space rocket.

The aim is fuel efficiency. In this case, GE says it will save 10 percent. The 777 has only two engines. The 747, which is progressively being retired by airlines, had four.

Putting one large GE9X -- which isn't due to go into service until 2020 -- alongside three smaller engines of the past looks very odd.

But you can say you saw it with your own eyes and, for at least a second, thought it might be a joke.

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