Test Pace Picks Up for GE38 Engine
GE Aviation, Evendale, Ohio,
recently completed 1,000 hours of
testing of its GE38 engine, which
has been selected to power the
Sikorsky-built CH-53K heavy-lift
helicopter in development for the
U.S. Marine Corps. The same
engine is being offered as a candidate for the Navy’s Ship-to-Shore
Connector project, which currently is under bid.
GE Aviation shipped the first of 20
flight test engines to CH-53K
builder Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.,
Stratford, Conn., in August. It will
be installed on the first ground test
prototype helicopter. A second
engine was delivered in November.
Five engines also are being built
for factory testing — which
includes durability, sea-level and
altitude performance, and high-pressure turbine aeromechanics —
at GE Aviation facilities in Lynn,
Mass., and Evendale.
The GE38 was selected for the CH-
53K program in December 2006.
Financial terms of the contract
have not been disclosed. Work
began on the engine in 2007 and
testing started in June 2009. The
first of five CH-53K ground test
vehicles now is under construction
at Sikorsky’s Florida Assembly and
Flight Operations facility in West
Brien Bolsinger is general manager
of GE Marine, a unit of GE Aviation
also based in Evendale.
The architecture the GE38 is replacing was a T64 vintage. The improvements really were driven by an increase in power and efficiency over the
The testing has gone extremely well. The engine has exceeded all of its
performance expectations. It has actually been better than predicted. The
engines being used for our factory testing are expected to have accumulated about 5,000 hours of testing before [the CH-53K] even goes into the
ground testing phase. We’ve got three engines on test to date and we’re
adding two more in the near future.
2012 will really be the big year for accumulating hours. There’s a series
of ingesting testing to be done — water, ice, sand, salt, birds — as well as
continuing the altitude and durability testing and the initiation of the
high-cycle fatigue testing.
What really makes this a great engine for us is that this was designed
for sand and salt environments, a marine environment, which is why we
are able to readily bring this right over into the sea/marine applications
with no modifications. This engine right from the get-go was designed for
these very harsh environments.
I think that is really going to make a big difference in the [Department
of the] Navy’s ability to apply this engine across multiple platforms, which
is really an advantage for them. It really simplifies things for the Navy.
You’ll often hear engine manufacturers talking about commonality, but
that degree of commonality can vary significantly. The actual GE38 engine
hardware is going to be 100 percent common between the marine variant
and the helicopter variant. The difference here is in the
software for the particular application.
This really is a co-development by the Navy and
GE with an eye to the future in building growth capability into this base engine. There’s not a platform out
there, whether it be a ship, an aircraft or helicopter,
where as the platform grows you don’t need
more power for it.