It was 1984. Ten years before the birth of the internet. Data was stored on something called a floppy disk. Your iTunes music was preserved on cassette tapes. There were no texts, tweets, or voice mail. 80s technology may seem archaic now, but there was one piece of machinery in development viewed as advanced.
"I often think back now, 'How did this work, how did we pull it off?' I remember when the first hardware was produced and we were all touching the hardware, it was experimental hardware, down on the assembly floor and it didn't take the foreman more than a minute to come over and yell at me for actually touching and picking up the hardware. I said, 'I designed this thing!'" said Dave Foster, V2500 program chief engineer.
Foster started his career on the V2500 program as a design engineer. Now, more than 7,000 engines later, he's earned the title of chief engineer on one of the most successful power plants in aviation history.
"One of the statements was, 'The sun never sets on the V2500 program.'"
It's been more than 30 years since a consortium of jet engine makers, including Pratt & Whitney, MTU and JAEC, joined together to create International Aero Engines, or IAE, to make a modular-designed two-shaft bypass turbofan engine that was both powerful and fuel efficient. It was the V2500.
"To me, the V is personal."
With more than 7,000 engines off the line and more than 100 million cycles, the legacy of the V is solidified. Something assembly mechanics have known for quite some time.
"It shows that it's a great engine."
Because time – flies. It has for Reggie Sandiford, who's been called upon to work on the V-line twice in his career.
"For me, it's like – when you buy a car. Say you buy a Buick and you have a lot of good luck with that Buick – you know what's going to happen down the road? You are going to buy a Buick again. With the V2500s, they run efficiently, they run very well and the dependability is there," he said.
And so they will keep building – keep flying – keep adding to an idea born in the 80s. It's a decade often remembered as a time of ambition and technological innovation. And if you doubt that assessment, simply look up. Dave Foster does and smiles and gets a similar feeling when he takes the time to look back.
"I speak to retirees that work on the program and they sit back and they're shaking their heads and they would have never dreamed that we'd be hitting these kinds of numbers today," he said. "It's a pleasant surprise and it's a good feeling."