Delta Just Built a Giant Concrete Bunker for Testing Next-Gen Jet Engines

Jan 22, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Delta isn’t exactly in the movie set making business, but it might want to consider renting its newest facility out to science fiction filmmakers whenever a massive jet engine isn’t being tested within. The carrier just wrapped construction on “the world’s largest jet engine test cell” in its hometown of Atlanta, Georgia — the first cell built by a US airline in more than 20 years.

Delta TechOps - Test Cell Line
Jet engines await their turn for testing at Delta’s smaller test cell site in Atlanta (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)

We toured this monstrous site during construction last autumn as part of a larger behind-the-scenes look at Delta’s TechOps division. The final facility stands 48 feet tall, with inlet and exhaust sections measuring 66 feet and 78 feet respectively, and is capable of “safely running a mounted, stationary engine at full power with 150,000 pounds of thrust.” For perspective, the airline’s current test cell has a 68,000 pound thrust capacity.

An inescapable room in a science fiction film? Or a part of Delta's largest test cell? (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)
An inescapable room in a science fiction film? Or a part of Delta’s largest test cell? (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)

Translation? The new cell will enable Delta to test a wider array of jet engines, including the Trent 1000, 7000 and XWB and the PW1100 and PW1500 variants of the Geared Turbofan. You may recall that the Trent 1000 is (presently) best known for giving Dreamliner operators fits with reliability.

Construction is coming along nicely at Delta's largest-ever jet engine test cell (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)
Construction in October 2018 at Delta’s largest-ever jet engine test cell (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)

In October 2015, Delta and Rolls-Royce signed a formal agreement for Delta TechOps to become an Authorized Maintenance Center for Rolls-Royce engines.

Delta's newest test cell in Atlanta (Photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines)
Delta’s newest test cell in Atlanta (Photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines)

Under the agreement, the airline will provide engine services for the latest generation Trent XWB, Trent 1000 and Trent 7000, in addition to the BR715, which had already been added to engine capabilities.

Giant tunnels and extraordinarily thick walls are needed to test high-thrust jet engines (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)
Giant tunnels and extraordinarily thick walls are needed to test high-thrust jet engines (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)

For a basic understanding of what the site is, we’ll boil it down to this. It’s a rigid concrete structure that’s capable of housing a next-gen jet engine, cranked just like it would be if flying passengers across the globe, without sucking nearby neighborhoods into its vortex. The only way to truly test an engine for reliability is to push it as it would be pushed in the air, and it takes a beastly concrete box to contain all of that whilst on the ground.

Just through that window is a jet engine, just about ready for takeoff (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)
A look at a control room attached to Delta’s smaller test cell in Atlanta (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)

An engine is mounted within the cell and triggered from a nearby control center, where precisely engineered inflows and outflows allow air to funnel in and out while data is collected. Those inflows and outflows look mighty eerie when viewed from within, and no living organism would survive if they were inside once the engine was activated. Like we said — all the makings of the next great dystopian thriller.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter here!

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.