A team from Boeing, GE Aviation and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Aviation & Missile Center (AvMC) completed another successful ground test in late March, furthering the demonstration of higher-power T408-GE-400 engines on an H-47 Chinook helicopter.
On March 26, the team successfully progressed to dual-engine flight idle and opened the full rotor speed envelope while also verifying engine control fault modes and alternate shutdown procedures.
Despite travel restrictions posed by COVID-19 and social distancing measures at Fort Eustis, Virginia, the combined team — which includes Parker LORD Corporation — continues to press forward with testing of the T408 Engine Integration program on a modified NCH-47D testbed aircraft. In response to COVID-19 realities, the Army team has taken over all on-site duties for testing and is executing with assistance via telepresence from industry test partners.
A limited set of final ground test events remain to clear the aircraft for flight demonstration testing with the next test event to incrementally open the torque envelope. Flight testing is set to begin this summer, constituting 25 hours of testing. All testing will be executed at Eustis’ Felker Army Airfield and the surrounding local flying area; it is scheduled to conclude in 2020.
The flight demonstration will identify and reduce cargo-class engine integration risks in support of potential future capability. The objectives are to evaluate engine integration and performance through a flight demonstration on an NCH-47D. Testing will characterize structural response, engine governing, thermal compatibility and limited handling qualities within the existing aircraft operating envelope. The outcome is to determine the feasibility and reduce risks of repowering the Chinook with a more technologically advanced turboshaft engine.
The demonstration is using modified T408-GE-400 engines, additively manufactured load bearing drive system components and an off-engine torque measurement system provided by Parker LORD Corporation.
At 7,500 shaft horsepower, the T408 engine provides a combined 5,000 shp more than legacy Chinook engines, the Lycoming (now Honeywell) T55.
Three 7,500 shp-rated T408 (GE38) engines provide the power for the U.S. Marine Corps’ new CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter, enabling it to carry a 27,000-pound external load over a mission radius of 110 nautical miles in Navy high/hot weather conditions. The CH-53K is the largest helicopter operated by the U.S. military.