FORT EUSTIS, Va. – A team from Boeing, GE Aviation and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center completed another successful ground test in late March, furthering the demonstration of higher-power T408-GE-400 engines on an H-47 Chinook.
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.
“It’s a testament to the hard work and ingenuity of everyone involved that they have been able to develop workarounds to include remote test team members and a socially distanced telemetry setup to continue this testing,” said Lt. Col. Michael Osmon, chief of flight test for the CCDC AvMC Technology Development Directorate, Aviation Technology, Systems Integration & Demonstration.
A limited set of final ground test events remain to clear the aircraft for flight demonstration testing. The next test event will incrementally open the torque envelope.
“Once we have been able to safely demonstrate the entire power range of the aircraft on the ground and know how it reacts, we will be able to bring this test to flight and see how it performs,” said Maj. Zachariah Morford, Army test team lead.
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.
The CCDC Aviation & Missile Center, formerly known as the Aviation & Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, which conducts responsive research, development and life cycle engineering to deliver the aviation and missile capabilities the Army depends on to ensure victory on the battlefield today and tomorrow. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation's wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.