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Paris Air Show 2019: Boeing to demo CH-53K engine on Chinook

14 June 2019
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Boeing is to replace the Chinook's incumbent Honeywell T55 engine (pictured) with the more powerful GE T408 for upcoming trials. Source: IHS Markit/Patrick Allen

Boeing will demonstrate on its CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopter the more powerful General Electric (GE) T408 engine normally fitted to its Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion competitor, the company said ahead of the Paris Air Show.

Speaking at Boeing's Philadelphia production facility in Pennsylvania, Chuck Dabundo, vice-president and H-47 programme manager, said that Boeing, GE, and the US Army will conduct the flight demonstration later this year.

"We are pretty far along with the modifications, and we are now getting ready to fly," he said.

Replacing the Chinook's incumbent Honeywell T55 engines with the GE T408 involved some major structural changes to the supporting mounts given the larger size of the new powerplant. Boeing noted that because the T55 spins in the opposite direction to the T408, a new gearbox is needed.

As Dabundo explained, swapping powerplants will increase the Chinook's power from a combined 10,000 shp to 15,000 shp. While the US Army currently has no programme-of-record for fitting new engines, it is "the logical next step" to the Block 2 upgrade that is geared at reinstating payload that has been lost over recent years as more mission equipment has been installed onto the helicopter.

"The engine is the limiting factor for the aircraft to do more. Block 2 is about restoring payload, and that includes the provision for larger engines", Dabundo said.

In terms of the Block 2 enhancement, Dabundo described the effort as "a three-legged stool" that comprises the current engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) contract; equipping the MH-47G special mission Chinook; and equipping the standard CH-47F.

The first of three EMD helicopters made its maiden flight at the Philadelphia plant on 26 March, and has since been transported to Mesa in Arizona ahead of flight trials scheduled to begin shortly.

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