The U.S. Army has flown Boeing CH-47 Chinook powered by General Electric T408 engines for the first time.
“First fight of a Chinook with a General Electric T408 engine, expanding the capabilities of future Chinook heavy-lift missions for the U.S. Army,” the Army's Combat Capabilities Development Command's (CCDC) Aviation & Missile Center (AvMC) tweeted today.
CCDC said that this test, which included hover and pedal turn maneuvers, of the NCH-47D testbed helicopter was conducted from Felker Army Airfield.
The T408 turboshaft engine currently powers Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter. This engine is larger and heavier than the Honeywell T55 engines found on existing Chinooks. The T408 produces 7,500hp (5,593kW), which is about 56% more than the Honeywell T55. GE is also developing a T408 derivative for the Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program.
Honeywell is working on a more powerful version of its T55, the T55-GA-714C, capable of generating 6,000hp. The company claims this new engine more fuel efficient and would be easier to install because it does not require airframe changes.
Official pictures and video from the maiden flight show new, more square-shaped engine nacelles necessary to house the T408s. Pylons that attach the engines to the rear fuselage have also been reinforced. Additional reinforcing bars between the nacelles themselves and rear fuselage can also be observed.
According to reports, there have been changes to the rotorcraft’s drive chain to go along with the more powerful engines. An off-engine torque measurement system from the Parker LORD Corporation has also been installed on the NCH-47D.