Successful fit tests

A US Army AH-64 Apache helicopter from 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment (Attack Reconnaissance) conducts a traffic pattern training flight at Katterbach Army Airfield in Ansbach, Germany.
Charles Rosemond/US Army

Despite the fundamental difference between their respective engine architectures, both ATEC and GE Aviation also demonstrated successfully to the ACC in December that their respective turboshaft designs met one of the US Army’s fundamental requirements for the ITEP programme – that the engine provide a drop-in fit into the spaces in the UH-60 and the AH-64 for their existing T700 installations.

Under this requirement, the ITEP engine not only must be dimensionally identical to the T700, but all of its attachment points to the airframe structure must be in the same locations as those of the existing engine.

ATEC and GE Aviation used fullscale mock-ups for these fit test demonstrations with the UH-60 and AH-64. The reason GE did so was that, because the prototype T901 test engine was covered in wiring leading from the hundreds of pressure and temperature sensors inside it, the external parts of the prototype were not configured as those in a production engine would have been, according to Sousa.

This and the fact that GE Aviation’s additive-manufacturing capabilities made it easy for the company to quickly create a full-size mock-up on which the locations of “the externals” exactly matched those which would be found on a production T901 meant it was more sensible for GE to use a mock-up for the fit tests.

The US Army’s primary objectives for the ITEP were to develop a new engine capable of generating 50% more power, provide 25% better fuel efficiency and 20% better engine life than the baseline T700 engine.

US Army UH-60 Black Hawks take off in unison from Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait.
Sgt Ty McNeeley/US Army