Turbomeca Exhibits Bell SLS Engine Mockup, Mulls New High-power Engine Family
Helicopter engine manufacturer Turbomeca (Booth No. 2814) is exhibiting a mockup of its Arrius 2R for the Bell SLS and has a variety of ongoing developments. The company is also considering the launch of a new family of turboshafts to power medium-heavy to heavy rotorcraft. Meanwhile, deliveries are on a downward curve.
The first run of the Arrius 2R is scheduled for April, Olivier Andriès, CEO of the Bordes, France-based firm told AIN. Announced in June 2013 at the Paris Air Show, the Bell SLS powered by an Arrius 2R represents the first commercial partnership between Turbomeca and Bell. The 504-shp Arrius 2R is a new engine; its architecture is that of the Arrius 2 family but engineers have put a focus on single-engine helicopter safety requirements. It is the first engine in its category to have a dual-channel Fadec, which is further reinforced with an auxiliary control system that can act as a backup, according to Turbomeca.
The first Arrano, designed to power the Airbus Helicopters X4 medium twin, is to make its first run this winter. Belonging to the 1,100-shp engine class, the new engine should bring a double-digit improvement in fuel burn, compared to year 2000 state of the art. Andriès expressed hope that it could also one day find an application in the heavy single category–around 6,000 pounds mtow.
The 1,000-shp Arriel 2N, developed for the upgraded Airbus Helicopters AS365N3e Dauphin, is planned to receive certification this summer. It was once scheduled for mid-2013. “We are close to the end of the development phase,” Andriès said. Entry into service of the N3e, however, has been postponed but Airbus Helicopters is not providing details on that program.
In the Ardiden family, the Ardiden 3G’s development is waiting for the first flight of the Russian Helicopters Ka-62, hoped for mid-year. Certification of the 1,680-shp engine is thus penciled in for the first quarter of 2015.
Another Ardiden variant, the Ardiden 3C, is under joint development with China’s Avic Engine and thus also known as the WZ16. It made its first run last November at Turbomeca’s test facility. Certification by the Civil Aviation Administration of China is expected in September 2015. The Ardiden 3C, understood to have a power close to 1,800 shp, features a dual-channel Fadec. It is slated to power the Avicopter AC352 medium twin, the Chinese counterpart of the Pratt & Whitney Canada-equipped Airbus Helicopters EC175.
New Product Development
Turbomeca is now reviewing its options to launch a family of more powerful engines, those powering helicopters in the eight- to 13-metric ton (17,500- to 28,500-pound) mtow category. Engineers are engaged in a knowledge-gathering process. First, Turbomeca has taken over Rolls-Royce’s share in the RTM322 program. “This gives us know-how in hot sections for this class of engines,” Andriès emphasized. The 2,300-shp RTM322 powers the AgustaWestland AW101, among others.
Second, Turbomeca engineers are working on a demonstrator dubbed Tech 3000, where 3000 stands for 3,000 shp. With a new compressor and hot section, it should run in 2015. “From there, we’ll be in a position to launch an engine program, provided we find an application,” Andriès said.
Turbomeca is also mulling, beyond new engines, new propulsion architectures for helicopters. These might use various levels of hybridization. One low level could be an electric backup motors that would provide power only for a smoother autorotation. Airbus Helicopters (then Eurocopter) tested such a system in 2011. Turbomeca parent company Safran has regrouped its activities in “more electric aircraft” under the umbrella of a newly created subsidiary, Labinal Power Systems, Andriès noted.
Last year, the helicopter engine maker produced 984 turboshafts, fewer than the planned 1,100. In 2014 and 2015, this number is predicted to be close to 900. The downward trend is due to helicopter program delays in emerging countries and a downgraded production forecast at Airbus Helicopters, Andriès said. Therefore, the 6,300-strong workforce may decline moderately this year.