Photo Essay: Inside The World’s Largest Jet Engine Test Cell

by | Mar 28, 2019 | All Posts, Articles, Photo Essays sent motorsports photographer Camden Thrasher to Atlanta to get a detailed, behind-the-scenes look at this amazing new facility and bring the aesthetic of his phenomenal racing coverage to aviation. - Editor’s Note.

Doors that weigh 385,000 pounds, each. A concrete ceiling that’s four-feet thick. An exhaust room designed to withstand temperatures up to 1700 degrees Fahrenheit. Here’s an inside look at the largest jet engine test cell in the world.

Endurance is the overlooked performance achievement. A bottle rocket accelerates from earth faster than a Saturn V, but only one can burn long enough to put a man on the moon. Jet engines are at the center of our aerial infrastructure and Delta Air Laines built this new facility in Atlanta to give themselves the ability to test and maintain them.

No other airline has built a similar facility in the last 20 years and the test cell Delta is replacing can only handle up to 68,000 pounds of thrust, according to the airline. Delta is trying to future-proof themselves with a facility that can handle 30% more thrust than the GE90, which is currently the most powerful commercial jet engine at 115,000 pounds of thrust.

Aircraft Maintenance Technicians Frank Zungri and Baily Lamb working on a Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine. In order to withstand the immense force of a jet engine the walls of the facility are supported by two feet of concrete. The ceilings are four-feet thick.
A Trent XWB jet engine, used to power the Airbus A350, on the test stand. In addition to servicing Deltas fleet of 850 aircraft, the company also provides testing and maintenance for over 150 other commercial and military operators.
Up close with jet engine internals.
In ULR-trim the Airbus A350, powered by a Trent XWB engine similar to the one being examined by technician Frank Zungri, can fly 9,700 nautical miles.
The front fan of the Trent XWB is more than nine feet in diameter and sucks in nearly 3,000 pounds of air every second during take-off. There are 68 high-pressure turbine blades inside each motor generating an incredible 50,000 horsepower.
Looking upwards towards the ceiling of the exhaust room above the blast basket, which captures the extremely hot gas expelled during engine testing. This blast basket can handle temperatures up to 1700 degrees Fahrenheit.
A shot below the blast basket. Don’t forget to shut the door.
More engines on stands awaiting service or evaluation as one of Delta’s jets sits in the background at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. Photo by for