DefenseIndustrial Additive Manufacturing

GE T901 engine for future military helicopter begins tests

The first prototype is largely 3D printed while end-use engines will feature several 3D printed parts

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GE has initiated testing on the first T901-GE-900 engine, GE’s next-generation rotorcraft engine will power the U.S. Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk, AH-64 Apache military helicopters built by Sikorsky and Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) aircraft in the future.  According to DefenseNews, which cites US Army sources, the engine the GE T901 “first engine to test” underwent a “light off,” marking the first time fuel was ignited in the engine.

The use of advanced materials pioneered through GE’s commercial engine lines, including 3D printed (additive) manufactured parts from GE Additive and ceramic matrix composites, are key technologies enabling the T901’s performance. The T901 also maintains the same aircraft mounting and installation envelope as the T700.

In 2019, the U.S. Army selected GE’s T901 engine for the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of the Improved Turbine Engine (ITE) program to re-engine its Apache and Black Hawk fleets. The Army also selected the 3,000-shaft horsepower T901 for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program.

GE T901 military helicopter engine begins tests at Sikorsky. Prototype largely 3D printed; end use ones feature several 3D printed partsThe First Engine to Test milestone is being performed in a recently upgraded test cell at GE’s Lynn, Mass., facility. GE has upgraded three test cells in Lynn to efficiently complete the comprehensive T901 EMD engine test program. The test cell upgrades include systems to absorb the increased power and allow no-load operation of the engine, improved instrumentation capability, and upgraded test controls. T901 EMD engine testing will also be performed at GE’s Evendale, Ohio, facility, as well as government facilities.

“We’re excited to get testing started on this engine. It’s the biggest milestone to date in the ITE program and the result of the strong collaboration between the GE and U.S. Army teams,” said GE T901 Program Director Tom Champion. “The early testing data we’ve gathered indicates the engine is performing in line with our expectations and Army requirements.”

Compared to its predecessor, the GE T700, the T901’s 50% power increase restores aircraft performance, while its 25% better specific fuel consumption reduces fuel usage and carbon emissions. Increased component durability will lower life cycle costs for future military helicopters

Testing of the first engine is the start of a multi-year test campaign to reach full Army qualification. During the remainder of testing for the first engine, the integrated test team will perform a number of simulated flight conditions to collect performance data of the highly instrumented test engine.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based 3dpbm. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites 3D Printing Media Network and Replicatore, as well as 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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