GE Aviation has started testing the first turbine engine it developed for the Future Affordable Turbine Engine (FATE) program, a cooperative effort it has been pursuing with the U.S. Army since 2011. GE noted the new engine has been designed to achieve a 35% reduction in specific fuel consumption, 80% improvement in power-to-weight, 20% improvement in design life, and 45% reduction in production and maintenance costs relative to currently fielded engines.
Five years ago, the U.S. Army chose GE to oversee the FATE cooperative program: it is working on a 5,000-lb, 10,000-shaft horsepower class turboshaft engine that incorporates technologies applicable to existing aircraft and future rotorcraft requirements.
The new engine test follows GE Aviation’s successful development last year of the FATE compressor, combustor, and turbine rig tests. The FATE compressor rig recorded the highest single-spool compressor pressure ratio in GE Aviation’s history; the combustor test incorporated ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) in the combustor; and the FATE turbine rig was built using additive manufacturing techniques.
“The FATE program is the most advanced turboshaft development program in GE’s history, incorporating an extensive use of state-of-the-art technologies for the next generation of propulsion,” stated Harry Nahatis, GE Aviation’s general manager of Advanced Turboshaft Programs.
GE Aviation stated it expects the new technologies can be incorporated into new engines, including the GE3000, or upgrades to existing engines such as the T700 (installed in several military helicopters, including the Black Hawk and Apache) and the T408 engine (which powers the U.S. Marine Corps CH-53K helicopter.)
“Between the T408, GE3000, and FATE programs, we have a unique multigenerational product plan that shares technologies across our military rotorcraft efforts, incorporates commercial engine technologies and fuses them together in a low-risk manner to drive high-performance and affordable engines applicable to both military and commercial aircraft,” according to GE Aviation’s Jean Lydon-Rodgers, vice president and general manager of the Military Systems Operation.