The US Army’s next-generation helicopter engine program achieved a significant milestone recently when fuel was ignited in the engine for the first time for power generation.
The General Electric T901 First Engine to Test marks the culmination of “engineering design work that will verify and validate engine performance models through engine testing.”
The engine has been connected with over 700 sensors to capture performance data and “will complete over 100 hours of run time over the next two months as the engine undergoes a gradual break-in process that builds up to maximum power runs.”
In the next phase of engine qualification, multiple engines will be put through the Army Military Airworthiness Certification Criteria testing in the summer before undergoing “1,500 hours of full-scale ground testing for preliminary flight rating and close to 5,000 hours of testing for full engine qualification.”
The T901 is a replacement for the GE T700 engine powering the fleet of Boeing AH-64 Apache and Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks. The new engine will also run the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft — to be built by Bell or Sikorsky.
More Powerful, Efficient
The more robust, reliable, and efficient engine will address the reduced range and payload capacity the four-decade platforms have undergone due to increased weight from years of upgrades and retrofitting.
“The T901 regains that lost capability, particularly in high/hot conditions — above 6,000 feet and in temperatures higher than 95 °F — and improves upon it through increased shaft horsepower and reduced specific fuel consumption,” the service states.
The new engine will be 50 percent more powerful and 25 percent more efficient at roughly the same weight as its predecessor. Its greenhouse gas emissions will also be lower than that of the T700.