Turbomeca (Booth No. C3901) is ramping up production of its turboshaft engines this year. Simultaneously, the company’s maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) activity is growing, too. In new developments, Turbomeca is busy with helicopter engine upgrades to the Arriel family and the new TM800 that will power the Eurocopter X4 medium twin.
Here at Heli-Expo ’13, Turbomeca is unveiling a TM800 mockup and announcing the name that will replace the current designation. The Bordes, France-based company has a tradition of naming its products after peaks and rivers found in the Pyrénées mountains. During an interview with AIN in January, CEO Olivier Andriès hinted that the TM800 may have a Basque name like that of the more powerful Makila (a Makila is a stick that can be used for walking or as a weapon).
The TM800 was selected last year for the Eurocopter X4, which is to replace the AS365 Dauphin/EC155 family. The new engine will be in the 1,200-shp class, Andriès said. “It is a follow-on to our Tech 800 demonstrator; therefore, tests are already well under way.” The first complete engine is scheduled to run early in 2014 and it should be ready for entry into service in 2017.
A Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210–the other engine option on the X4–will power the first prototype. “We are aiming at a significant advantage in specific fuel consumption over the PW210,” Andriès said, adding that he sees the new engine as a good candidate for Part 27 heavy single-engine helicopters.
Also in the higher power category, with about 1,800 shp, the Ardiden 3 is being prepared for EASA certification in 2014. This will be the Ardiden 3G version (1,680 shp) for the Russian Helicopters Ka-62 medium twin. “We have delivered the first prototype engines; first flight is planned for next spring or summer,” Andriès said.
The WZ16 version of the Ardiden 3 will power the Avicopter AC352–the Chinese variant of Eurocopter’s EC175. The WZ16 will be a binational turboshaft, as China’s Avic Harbin Dongan Engine is “redeveloping” the cold section, while Turbomeca retains responsibility for the hot section. Despite AIN’s repeated requests for clarification, the rationale for the “redevelopment” remains unclear. Andriès predicted the AC352 will fly next year. Engine certification is slated for 2015. “With the Ardiden 3, compared to the Pratt & Whitney PT6C-67, we are offering a double-digit gain in specific fuel consumption,” Andriès said.
In the lower-power category, Turbomeca is continuing with upgrades to the Arriel engine family, dubbed Arriel 2+. The Arriel 2E was certified in December last year. At 894 shp, it powers the EC145T2, which is undergoing flight testing. The time between overhaul (TBO) is targeted at 4,000 hours at entry into service and 6,000 hours after the engine matures.
The Arriel 2N will equip the AS365N3e Dauphin, planned to enter into service late this year. “We have reworked the axial compressor, changed the material of the high-pressure turbine’s first stage and improved the Fadec,” Andriès explained. These improvements will increase power by a double-digit percentage. Meanwhile, the TBO will be enhanced, similar to the TBO of the 2E, and there will be a slight improvement in specific fuel consumption, he added.
The Arriel 2+’s modular design makes maintenance simpler and less expensive, according to Turbomeca. A new engine data recorder should help eliminate some traditional maintenance needs and shift the engine more to preventative maintenance protocols. The Arriel 2+ family should also require fewer unscheduled removals.
For the longer term, Turbomeca is working on hybrid propulsion system architectures. The objective is to cut fuel burn in the cruise phase. One possibility would be using downsized turboshafts with electric boosters for the takeoff phase. “We have patented several innovations,” Andriès said.
Turbomeca will ship about 1,100 engines from its factory this year. This is an increase over 2012 (1,012 engines) and 2011 (950 engines). Ten percent of the production is now going to China and this proportion is expected to grow to 20 percent by 2018.
On the MRO side, the number of serviced engines has held steady at about 1,400 per year. The short-term trend should see growth, however. “The fleet is growing and the number of flight hours per helicopter is growing, too,” Andriès noted.
Turbomeca plans a slight increase in its 6,000-strong workforce this year. Approximately 200 employees will be hired in its design offices. “We are growing our research-and-development expenditure, which will represent 15 percent of our revenues,” Andriès said.