USA GE is testing the first T901 engine for future US Army helicopters

TR_123456

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GE has upgraded three test cells at its Lynn, Massachusetts facility to test the more powerful T901 rotorcraft engine (Image: GE Aviation)

GE has started ground testing the first T901-GE-900 engine, the rotorcraft engine that will power the US Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk, AH-64 Apache and Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft aircraft in the future.


The US Army selected the T901 to re-engine its Apache and Black Hawk fleets in 2019. The Army has also selected the 3,000-shaft horsepower T901 for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program.

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The first engine to test milestone is being performed in a recently upgraded test cell at GE’s Lynn, Massachusetts facility. GE has upgraded three test cells in Lynn to efficiently complete the T901 engine test program.


The test cell upgrades include systems capable of absorbing the increased power and allow no-load operation of the engine, improved instrumentation capability, and upgraded test controls.


T901 engine testing will also be performed at GE’s Evendale, Ohio, facility, as well as government facilities.


Testing of the first engine is the start of a multi-year test campaign to reach full Army qualification. During the remainder of testing for the first engine, the integrated test team will perform a number of simulated flight conditions to collect performance data of the highly instrumented test engine.

“We are excited to get testing started on this engine. It is the biggest milestone to date,” said GE’s T901 program director Tom Champion. “The early testing data we’ve gathered indicates the engine is performing in line with our expectations and Army requirements.”


Compared to its predecessor, the GE T700, the T901’s 50% power increase restores aircraft performance, while its 25% better specific fuel consumption reduces fuel usage and carbon emissions. Its components are also more durable, which will lower life cycle costs.


The T901 engine also uses additive manufactured parts and ceramic matrix composites and maintains the same aircraft mounting and installation envelope as the T700.

 

Gessler

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I have heard of interest in this engine from the Indian side in some circles...very likely to be one of the first export customers (for MLU of IAF/Army AH-64Es).

T901 is expected to significantly boost performance of the Apache in environments like the Himalayas.

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Yasar_TR

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- We were discussing about the turbine blades having directionally solidified crystalline structures to have high temperature resilience.
- Then we were discussing this not being enough. Therefore making the whole of the blade a single crystal to improve it’s heat resistance parameters.
- Then we discussed about various designs of air cooling ducts being carved in to the surface of blades to keep the temperatures in check. Also at the same time covering the blade surface with special ceramic coating to improve the performance of blades even further.

All these innovations came with a cost. Both monetary and performance wise.
The more heat generated at turbine entrance the more thrust is obtained from the engine. To keep noise levels down engine size and diameter increased. Bigger engines meant more thrust. But that meant bigger blades. Bigger blades meant more likelihood of “Creep” occurring quicker. Better cooling through carving air ducts meant degrading performance.

With the introduction of ceramic polymer fibres in to ceramic matrices and the use of composite materials in place of nickel super-alloys it has now been possible to produce turbine blades that are a third in weight of the same size nickel super alloy blades. These CMC (Ceramic Matrix Composite) blades have better heat resistance properties than single crystals and 25% higher life expectancy. there are no cooling ducts, no dampers at the root of the blades. Engines are lighter and more powerful (Up to 50%)
GE has successfully run a F414 engine with CMC materials. Now also in the process of trying this new tech on T-901 engines for helicopters.
It looks like this is the future of new high performance jet engines.
Hopefully with the close cooperation we have with GE and TEI we will latch on to this technology like IHI has, in Japan.
All major engine manufacturers are in the process of developing the CMC in to jet engines.

 

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