Boeing expects to begin flying prototype Block 2-configured CH-47 Chinook helicopters the next couple of years, with production for the US Army set to follow after, a senior company official told reporters on 18 May.
Speaking at the Philadelphia production facility, Boeing's vice-president and programme manager for the CH/MH-47 Chuck Dabundo said that with flight trials of the Advanced Chinook Rotor Blade (ACRB) that will be included in the upgraded having recently been concluded, Boeing will outfit three US Army CH-47F helicopters to the wider Block 2 standard in 2019 ahead of planned production in the early 2020s.
"In November/December 2016 we started flying the ACRB for Block 2, and finished testing two weeks ago. We expect to begin flight testing on three prototype Block 2 aircraft in 2019, and that will go on for a couple of years," Dabundo said.
The ACRB features geometry and a new asymmetric aerofoil to achieve the US Army's stated requirement for an increase the lift by about 1,500 lb (680 kg) for the whole helicopter at 4,000 ft and 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the hover. Boeing said that it has exceeded this requirement, with "a little over 1,600 lb" achieved. It should be noted that this requirement is significantly less than the previously reported ambition of about 2,000 lb per blade, or approximately 12,000 lb for the helicopter. Boeing was unable to account for this difference.
Speaking at the same media event, Boeing's director of cargo helicopter sales and marketing, Randy Rotte, outlined the task that the company's engineers faced in meeting the US Army's exacting requirements for the ACRB, saying: "The challenge was to get 1,500 lb more of lift out of the blades, but they had to be the same length and weight as the current blade. Also, the first 18 inches of the hub have to be identical to the current blade.
Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options: ihs.com/contact