(Image courtesy: GE Aviation)

The GE T901 will be the U.S. Army’s next gen helicopter engine

While GE Aviation’s T700 turboshaft engine has powered the U.S. Army’s Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters for more than 46 years, the U.S. Army will replace the T700 with GE Aviation’s fully modular T901-GE-900 engine as part of the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of the U.S. Army’s Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP).

With the new T901 engine, Evendale, Ohio-based GE Aviation, a subsidiary of General Electric, chose to maintain certain design aspects of the T700 engine; namely, a “single-spool” core architecture. The choice to use a single spool – a combination of engine compressor and high-pressure turbine – and limit the number of rotating assemblies within the engine was to maintain low cost, reliability, and maintainability while allowing for growth and reduced life-cycle costs.

According to GE, the T700 engine accumulated more than 100 million flight hours. Over the lifetime of the T700 family, GE doubled the power of derivative engines and reduced its cost to the government by 50 percent through continuous incremental upgrades and technology advancements.

GE plans to do the same with the T901 - the modularity allows for maintainers to swap out parts of the engine in the field and travel with fewer full-sized spare engines, simplifying logistical footprints and supply lines. It also allows for the potential of increased power and efficiency though lower cost incremental improvements to engine modules, which GE sees as a significant advantage to meet the Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) requirements.

(Image courtesy: GE Aviation)

The U.S. Army expects the ITEP engine to be a drop-in replacement for the T700. The service also expects the engine to meet Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft requirements for FVL.

GE’s T901 was selected over Advanced Turbine Engine Company’s (ATEC’s) dual-spool T900. ATEC is a joint venture between Honeywell and United Technologies’ Pratt & Whitney military engines unit.

“We are honored to be chosen by the Army to continue powering their Black Hawks and Apaches for decades to come,” says Tony Mathis, president and CEO of GE Aviation’s military business. “We’ve invested in the resources and infrastructure to execute immediately, and our team is ready to get to work on delivering the improved capabilities of the T901 to the warfighter.” 

Additive Manufacturing for Designers: A Primer

GE has invested $9 billion in maturing technologies applicable to the T901 and more than $300 million to develop and test turboshaft-specific technologies. Additionally, GE has invested more than $10 billion in their supply chain over the past decade, including expanding its additive manufacturing (AM) production capabilities to prepare for the additional AM components in the T901. The engine will also incorporate advanced hot section materials such as Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMCs).

EMD contract work is estimated to continue through August 1, 2024.

Learn more

William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.

Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at william.kucinski@sae.org.
  Continue reading »