GE Aviation hosted the US Army for the successful Preliminary Design Review (PDR) of the T901-GE-900 engine in early March. The T901 is GE Aviation's engine for the Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP), the US Army's undertaking to re-engine its Boeing AH-64 Apaches and Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks. The PDR is a major milestone within the Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction (TMRR) contract, a $102 million, 24-month contract the Army awarded GE in September 2016.
The Army is in the process of down selecting to one engine manufacturer for the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase by the end of 2018. The US Army Contracting Command (ACC), based at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., released its request for proposals for the EMD last November. GE Aviation submitted the first phase of the proposal in February and is currently preparing the second and final phase of its proposal based on the engine configuration reviewed at the PDR.
GE Aviation successfully completed a fit test with the Army this past December using a full-scale engine mockup. It demonstrated that the T901 engine seamlessly integrates with the Apache and Black Hawk airframes. GE's experience in powering these aircraft missions with the T700 engine over the past four decades has informed its development of the T901; it positions the Army and GE to make a smooth transition from the T700 to the T901.
GE has invested more than $9 billion in maturing commercial technologies applicable to the T901 and more than $300 million to develop and test turboshaft-specific technologies ahead of the PDR. GE funded and successfully completed testing a T901 prototype engine, as well as component tests. These company-funded investments demonstrate GE's commitment to providing only the most advanced technologies available to the Warfighter and the Department of Defense.
"The simple, proven, single-spool design of the T901, coupled with GE's advanced commercial and military technologies, allow it to exceed the Army's requirements," said Ron Hutter, executive director of the T901 program. "The T901 is lighter, less complex and more maintainable for the Warfighter, which leads to improved readiness and reduced life-cycle costs." Learn more about the T901's proven, single-spool design here.
The T901 incorporates many proven technologies that will advance Army Aviation into the future of vertical lift, including additive manufacturing, 3D aerodynamic design tools, ceramic matrix composites (CMCs), advanced cooling technologies and sand tolerant technologies. GE has spent decades developing and maturing these technologies in its commercial and military engines businesses.
The incorporation of additive (3-D printed) parts in the T901 leverages investments in new production plants, equipment and designs utilized for GE's commercially-funded programs such as GE's Catalyst™ advanced turboprop engine for the Cessna Denali. The Catalyst engine is the world's first turboprop engine with 3-D printed parts. Additive manufacturing allows GE to create advanced, cost effective parts at an accelerated rate that reduce fuel burn, decrease weight and increase durability. For example, the T901 includes an additive part that reduces an assembly of more than 50 subcomponents into one part. GE is an industry leader in the additive manufacturing space, having created a separate business, GE Additive, with an elite network of manufacturing and design experts who are advancing additive manufacturing technology every day. Learn more about additive manufacturing here, and about its impact on the aerospace industry here.
In just 10 years, GE Aviation has spent more than $1.5 billion to bring advanced CMC technology to market. To meet the projected future demand for CMCs, GE invested $200 million to build America's first center for mass-producing raw materials used to manufacture ceramic matrix composites (CMCs). It is in Huntsville, Ala., and will host its ribbon cutting May 9, 2018.
Additive manufactured components and CMC parts currently fly on CFM International's best-selling LEAP engine and GE's newest widebody engine in development, the GE9X engine. CFM International is a 50/50 joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines. The LEAP achieved the one million engine flight hour milestone and was recognized by the world's top senior business executives, academics and innovation professionals at the 2018 Edison Awards with a Silver award. The GE9X, the world's largest jet engine, recently completed its first flight March 14 aboard GE's flying testbed. Additive and CMC parts--which dramatically reduce fuel consumption, lower aircraft operating weight and increase durability--will have millions of hours of operating experience by the time the T901 enters production, enabling the engine to exceed the Army's aggressive performance targets with field-proven, low-cost technologies. Additionally, these proven technologies offer exceptional growth capability. Just as GE has doubled the power of the T700 over its lifetime within the same installation envelope, GE will continue to develop innovative, low-cost ways to incorporate advanced technologies to meet the Army's future growth requirements.
GE's T901 turboshaft design, manufacturing, assembly and testing will be supported by the following site locations: Lynn, Mass.; Huntsville, Ala.; Newark, Del.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Loves Park, Ill.; Madisonville, Ky.; Muskegon, Mich.; Hookset, N.H.; Asheville, N.C.; West Chester and Evendale, Ohio; and Rutland, Vt.
For Massachusetts: The ITEP PDR contract supports more than 100 equivalent fulltime engineers, predominantly located at the GE Aviation facility in Lynn, Mass. Designing, manufacturing and supporting T700 engines for the Army's Apache and Black Hawk helicopters has been a significant part of GE Lynn's business for decades. GE is aggressively competing for this next generation engine to ensure it can deliver improved capability to the US Army.
For Northern Alabama: During the ITEP PDR contract, GE Aviation is proving the benefit of incorporating advanced hot section materials such as Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMCs) in the T901 engine. GE will be opening two CMC material production facilities in Huntsville, Ala., to ensure there is sufficient production capability for future engines like the T901. GE invested $200 million in the facilities, which will employ up to 300 new workers. For Southern Alabama: During the ITEP PDR contract GE Aviation is proving the benefits of incorporating advanced manufacturing methods such as additive manufacturing in the T901 engine. GE is expanding its additive manufacturing production capability at its Auburn, Ala., facility. In 2014, GE announced it would invest $50 million in the existing 300,000-square-foot Auburn facility to prepare for the additional additive work. Upon completion, GE's investments in Auburn will total more than $125 million since 2011, creating more than 300 new jobs.