Honeywell has reached a significant milestone with the U.S. Army by being the first engine to test (FETT) as part of its Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) for the next-generation engine for CH-47 Chinook helicopters. The CRADA program and testing of the T55-714C engine is planned throughout two years to validate the benefits and ease of integration of the new engine variant onto the Chinook platform.
Testing of the first T55-GA-714C engine was initiated at Honeywell’s Phoenix, Arizona test facilities in November to verify the design and establish the performance benchmark in preparation for engine installation on the flight test aircraft. To date, the engine has tested through maximum continuous power, demonstrating mechanical operation and acquiring key performance data. Additional testing is planned at significantly higher power levels.
“First engine to test is a significant achievement for the program and is the culmination of detailed design work, component manufacturing, system integration, and validation. Now all the engineering is coming to life in the rigorous testing of this enhanced engine for the U.S. Army,” said Dave Marinick, president, Engines and Power Systems, Honeywell Aerospace.
With 6,000shp, Honeywell’s upgraded engine is 23% more powerful and consumes 8% less fuel than the current T55, even in demanding operating conditions. New modifications also make the next-generation T55 easier to maintain with lower operating costs for increased readiness.
The T55-GA-714C engine for next-generation military operators will improve the Chinook helicopter’s ability to lift troops and heavy cargo. Because the engine is based closely on the T55 version currently in use, minimal airframe modifications are required – the same intake, exhaust, and engine airframe mounts are used. This design provides the U.S. Army with a major engine improvement without the need to retrain their maintenance and operational staff or undertake major aircraft changes.
In 2020, Honeywell won a competitive repair and overhaul contract for the T55. In addition, Honeywell completed a new engine repair and overhaul facility in Phoenix. That move allowed the repair and overhaul work on the T55-GA-714A engine to be fulfilled in the same location as new engine production. The T55 center of excellence provides for a shared workforce, facilities, and engineering resources between both engine lines and delivers up to 20 engines per month to the U.S. Army, foreign military, and commercial customers.
Honeywell first delivered the T55 engine to the U.S. Army in 1961 at 2,200shp on the CH-47A helicopter. Since that time, the engine’s power has nearly tripled to 6,000shp. Each performance increase on the T55 is accompanied by reduced fuel burn, increased reliability, and decreased maintenance hours. More than 900 CH-47 helicopters are operated today by various militaries around the world.