A new engine for the CH-47 Chinook will significantly increase the helicopter’s capabilities, allowing it to meet future operational needs head-on.
Presented in partnership with Honeywell Aerospace
With the US Army CH-47 Chinook Helicopter Due to remain in service at least until the 2050s, the construction of the new T55-714C helicopter engine is crucial.
Developed by a defense company Honeywell Aerospacethe 714C is a modernization of the older T55-714A engine fitted to US Army CH-47 Chinook helicopters and will provide significant performance improvements when introduced.
TJ Pope, senior director of military turboshaft engines for Honeywell Aerospace, told Studio that the first complete T55-714C engine configuration is under construction and, after a series of testing and verification phases, will be ready for production in 2024.
âRight now, we’re building our compressor test bed and lab iterations of the engine components. We are also building a more capable test cell at our plant to be able to handle increased engine power for production and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) capabilities down the line,â he said. he declares.
Following the completion of laboratory testing in 2020, the first installation on a Chinook will begin in the fall of 2021, with further flight testing on Chinooks at Fort Eustis in 2022.
Development of the 714C is a funded effort by Honeywell, which invested in the engine in anticipation of the future needs of the U.S. Army Chinook fleet in an era of great power competition and potential conflict with a close adversary.
Pope explained that it is estimated that helicopters will be available until at least the 2050s, during which time demands on the platform will increase.
The Chinooks will need to provide more capability for longer range operations in hot, high conditions, in the maritime environment and for carrying heavier payloads.
To meet these expectations, the 714C will operate in the 6,000 horsepower class, four times the amount of the original T55 engine installed on the first Chinook helicopters when they entered service in the United States in 1961 and 22% more than the current 714A. motor.
It can achieve high power thanks to the development of a new compressor module that has been redesigned to allow for increased power output and improved fuel consumption. This new component is at the heart of the 714C upgrade and allows the motors to run at higher cycle pressure, providing more efficient output.
Improvements to the compressor module design come from the development of Honeywell’s HTF 7000 turbojet engine in the commercial sector.
Pope said Honeywell learned from that work for the T55. The compressor has been built with stronger materials to achieve the high cycle pressures available and a 25% improvement in reliability and a 40% longer compressor life cycle.
The 714C will increase the Chinook’s lift capacity to 21,000 lbs while adding only a negligible increase in weight and retaining the existing engine size.
According to Pope, compared to the 714A, the dimensions of the ‘C’ version have changed by just half an inch and by retaining the shape and structure of the ‘A’ version, it does not require structural modifications to the CH -47 plane.
âThat was a very high priority goal of these drills, to pack more power and more efficiency into the same footprint to minimize customer impact.â It does not require new plumbing; it uses the existing aircraft engine airframe and can be an immediate upgrade,â he explained.
The only modification is a new wire to the cockpit for a pilot indicator due to the added anti-icing functionality that is included. In addition, the hydromechanical assembly is moved from the bottom of the engine to the top for easier maintenance.
Currently, there is no official US Army program to purchase new engines for the Chinook fleet, but there is a need for improved capabilities. With the introduction of the T55-714A still underway, Pope said the “predominant source” of 714Cs in the near term would be modifications to convert the “A” engine to the “C” engine.
In the long term, Pope expects production of new 714C engines if Boeing selects it for its new CH-47 Chinook Block II variants within the next two years.
Further into the future, Honeywell is looking to develop a 7,000 horsepower class variant of the T55 engine. Pope said it would have a common supercharger with the 714C, so the focus will be on “building a new centerline” around that by improving components on the other half of the engine by introducing technology upgrades with “new materials and new design methodologies”.
Meanwhile, Honeywell established a new MRO facility in Phoenix, co-locating it with its existing T55 production line. Pope said this was necessary to “reduce operational strain” and meet additional demands from the US military to support the Chinook, which has seen an increased operational tempo in recent years.
He added that the co-location of MRO and production facilities offered “synergies” between the two parts of the business, allowing the rapid and seamless transfer of personnel from one to the other to meet any peak in demand. .
“It’s the same engine and the same skills. And so these people can go back and forth between these two facilities so that we can operationally optimize the way we manage both our front-end on the production side.