The Munich factory of Europrop International (EPI) is ramping up production of its 11,000-shp TP400 turboprop engine to an annual 96 units to support Airbus A400M military transport deliveries in the coming years.
At the same, EPI is carefully following the recent entry-into-service of the first three aircraft, without having any major issues to report. For the joint-venture company’s four partners–Rolls-Royce, Snecma, ITP and MTU–this phase is thus looking much quieter than during the A400M’s troubled development.
“We are producing 70 engines this year, which doubles last year’s rate, and are targeting a 96-engine annual rate two years from now,” program director Antoine Vieillard said in Farnborough this week. The numbers include turboprops that Airbus Defense and Space will use on its assembly line in Seville, Spain, and 15 percent spare engines. All engines for the 11 aircraft Airbus is producing this year have been delivered already. This includes the four TP400s that will power the German air force’s first A400M. The 100th production engine is scheduled to be handed over in early December.
By the end of June, the 12 TP400s operated by the French and Turkish air forces had accumulated a total 2,000 flight hours. The lead engine had reached 300 hours, president Ian Crawford said. He was happy to report the absence of any engine or major module removal. “We only had the usual line-maintenance snags you can expect at this stage on a new engine,” he emphasized.
An improvement package will soon be implemented on the propeller gearbox, which is supplied by GE Avio. The idea is to extend its life, as some areas have been found to be prone to wear. The first aircraft to receive the package will be MSN15, the first A400M to be delivered to the UK’s Royal Air Force (see Airbus Gears Up To Deliver RAF’s First A400M in Monday’s edition of AIN’s Farnborough Airshow News).
A second improvement is planned on the low-pressure turbine casing, starting with Germany’s first aircraft, MSN18. A nickel alloy should better withstand temperatures in a hotter-than-expected area. EPI is studying how to retrofit both modifications on in-service aircraft during scheduled maintenance, probably in 2015-2016.
The TP400 is described as an on-condition engine and EPI expects the average time between removals will be in the 3,000- to 4,000-hours range.