For the tightly regulated commercial aviation industry, rigid standards are required for the testing of jet engines. Apparently, GE has sand transported from all over the globe for the express purpose of firing it into their airplane motors to ensure they can handle the stress.
In a recent Wired article, they explain how these engines must be designed to take on just about anything the global skies can throw at them – literally. In-flight hazards include birds, hundreds of gallons of water, large chunks of ice, while sand becomes an issue when taking off or landing.
Many airports are in dusty, sandy locations, not just coastal areas like the Miami International Airport, but also inland sites like the Orlando International Airport. And these are only two examples in the state of Florida alone and don’t take into consideration the over 41,000 airports found around the world.
One might think, sand is sand, its found on beaches all over the world, but that’s exactly how much it can vary according to different locations globally. Geology tells us that the word “sand” is not a name for this material, but rather a term for its particle size, that can range anywhere from 1/16 of a millimeter up to 2 millimeters in diameter. The material itself can be composed of a variety of different substances like:
- Pink coral in Bermuda
- Volcanic rock fragments found in Greece
- Quartz grains around Utah
- Sedimentary rocks in Monterey, California
In another California coastal location, Pismo Beach, some of their sand samples can contain a wide variety of substances, volcanic rock, coral, feldspar and shell fragments.
So it would seem that GE is really doing their homework and not simply playing in their own backyard sandbox when it comes to this rigorous testing. Instead, they are travelling and transporting sand samples from all over the world for the best global results possible.