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Exceeding performance: GE Aviation completes T901 turboshaft testing for the US Army’s Improved Turbine Engine Program

October 09, 2017
GE Aviation successfully completed testing a T901-GE-900 turboshaft engine prototype in support of the United States Army’s Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP). The factory test engine exceeded ITEP performance requirements, proving that the GE T901 engine is ready for the ITEP Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase with low risk. The T901 engine tests were conducted over the span of six months and verified margin to meet future ITEP power requirements.

Following the completion of the T901 prototype test, GE continued the company-funded portion of its development program by running compressor, combustor and turbine component tests at its facilities in Lynn, Mass., and Cincinnati, Ohio. In addition, GE is utilizing the advanced turbine testing capability at the University of Notre Dame’s Turbomachinery Laboratory (NDTL) in South Bend, Ind., where GE committed $13.5 million to fund advanced research and testing in 2014.

“To validate our analytical models ahead of the ITEP PDR with the Army, it was critical to demonstrate that a T901 prototype engine outfitted with the latest and greatest commercial and military technologies will meet ITEP performance requirements—there is no substitute for testing. We’re thrilled with the overwhelmingly successful results, confirming that these requirements can be achieved while maintaining the single spool architecture of the T700 that enables full modularity and higher reliability,” said Ron Hutter, Executive Director of the T901 program.

The T901 incorporates the use of proven advanced manufacturing and high-temperature material technologies initially developed and matured for GE's commercial jet engines, such as ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) and additive manufactured components pioneered on the best-selling LEAP and GE9X engines. These innovations—which dramatically reduce fuel consumption and lower aircraft operating weight—will have millions of hours of operating experience by the time the T901 enters production, enabling the engine to meet or exceed the Army's aggressive performance targets with field-proven, low-cost technologies.

“With traditional machining and fabrication methods, individual parts are machined into finished parts from castings or forgings and built into assemblies using welding/brazing or bolted joints,” said Hutter. “On the T901, additive manufacturing reduces weight by minimizing attaching features in assemblies and allows for more advanced aerodynamic shapes, leading to better engine performance, reliability and durability for the Army.”

The T901 program has had a positive impact in Massachusetts and Alabama. In addition to providing over 700 jobs, GE Aviation has invested more than $325M expanding its additive and CMC manufacturing capabilities since 2011. You can read more about the impact the program is having on the regions by clicking here.

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GE Aerospace is a world-leading provider of jet and turboprop engines, as well as integrated systems for commercial, military, business and general aviation aircraft.