GE Aviation and Etihad Pursue Cleaner, Greener Engine Goals

Etihad Airways using GE's 360 Foam Wash system.
Credit: Etihad Airways

GE Aviation has launched a new aircraft engine cleaning solution in partnership with Etihad Airways that it says will provide benefits for both engine performance and the environment. Etihad will use GE’s 360 Foam Wash system on the GE90 and GEnx-1B engines powering its Boeing 777 and 787 fleets.

The system is an alternative to the water wash method, entailing the injection of a specially formulated, proprietary solution to remove dust and dirt particles in the engine. It is self-contained, collecting used foam and pumping fluid in an approved waste container for disposal, so the system can be used both outdoors and inside maintenance hangars. According to GE Aviation, the process typically takes about six hours to complete.

GE 360 Foam Wash system
Credit: GE Aviation

GE Research and GE Aviation began developing 360 Foam Wash as a solution to clean engines in hot and harsh environments, first testing it on components and test engines before moving onto field use. The first on-wing trial of the system was conducted on an Etihad Airways GE90 engine in January 2017.

According to GE Aviation, 360 Foam Wash restores engine performance and leads to a reduction in fuel consumption by reducing build-up of deposits in the engine, lowering engine exhaust temperatures and improving engine compressor efficiency.

“Our partnership with GE through the Etihad Greenliner program is a prime example of industry collaboration that will have a significant impact on Etihad’s fuel efficiencies and provide a case study for the broader industry,” says Paul Kear, senior vice president technical, Etihad Airways. “Through 2021 alone, we expect to realize a significant fuel savings and a reduction of more than 7,000 metric tons of CO2 for the combined GEnx-1B and GE90 fleets, compared to water wash methods.”

Etihad Airways using GE's 360 Foam Wash system.
Credit: Etihad Airways

GE 360 Foam Wash is the first joint initiative between GE and Etihad delivered under the Greenliner program, through which the airline collaborates with companies like GE and Boeing in an “eco partnership” to test products, procedures and initiatives designed to reduce aircraft carbon emissions on its fleet of 787s. GE Aviation is also partnering with Etihad through the program on implementing lean practices to improve engine change turnaround time and to test additional technologies for engine maintenance and enhanced inspection.

The 360 Foam Wash system is approved for use on multiple GE engines, including the GE90, GEnx, CF34, CF6 and GP7200. GE says customers need to obtain a technical license to use 360 Foam Wash due to its proprietary solution and process. So far it has awarded technical licenses for GE90 and GEnx engines, with Etihad being the first airline to receive licenses for multiple GE engine programs and the first to receive a technical license for GE90 engines. The OEM says the product has been licensed to multiple customers since 2019 and it continues to trial the system with other airline customers in various global regions.

Lindsay Bjerregaard

Lindsay Bjerregaard is managing editor for Aviation Week’s MRO portfolio. Her coverage focuses on MRO technology, workforce, and product and service news for, Aviation Week Marketplace and Inside MRO.