DH - Defence Helicopter

Paris Air Show: Re-engined Chinook to fly in 2019

10th June 2019 - 12:00 GMT | by Damian Kemp in Philadelphia

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Boeing, in co-operation with the US Army and GE, will fly a Chinook with two GE T408 engines in 2019 in an effort to examine possible improvements to one of the last parts of the aircraft capable of providing extra lift and endurance beyond existing CH-47 Chinook Block II improvements.

The trial, which would see the engine replace a Honeywell T55 5,000hp unit, will use the already military-qualified T408 7,500hp engine to inform the companies and service about what might be possible and any potential impact on other aircraft systems.

The engine has already been qualified for the US Navy Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion helicopter and is claimed to be 15% more fuel efficient than the current Chinook engine.

A Boeing official said the Block II improvements to the Chinook platform looked at everything which could be done to get payload back onto the platform, such as blades, transmission and engine.

‘The engine was considered, but it becomes a question of how much time do you have to qualify a new engine and how much funding. The engine fell out of the equation but at some point, though, that becomes the limiting factor,’ the official said.

Although there is no plan for a re-engining effort, and there remains no programme of record or funding, a decision was made to add additional structure to the aft end of the aircraft in Block II improvements to allow it to carry a heavier engine.

‘Before you get into an engine upgrade programme you need information about impacts. For example, what happens to the transmission?’ the official said. ‘No one has picked GE for a future programme.  What you can do is take an engine that is qualified, and once we fly this, it will help the army and inform them what they want to do.’

On the Block II Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) programme, an improved CH-47F flew for the first time on 26 March but without composite rotor blades or an upgraded drivetrain. These will be included in flight tests which will occur in Mesa, Arizona in the June-August timeframe. The second and third aircraft in the EMD contract will enter the programme later this year.

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