Olivier Andriès, who has been the CEO of Turbomeca since June, predicts that helicopter engines will become fuel-electric hybrids around 2030. He also predicted that, in about 20 years, conventional turbine engine performance will be close to an asymptote. By that, he meant further improvement of turbine technology will be enormously difficult and expensive, if not impossible. So the next step will be hybridization, he said. “We will see integrated propulsion systems using thermodynamic and electric solutions,” he told AIN.
Turbomeca plans to reduce the specific fuel consumption (SFC) of its turboshaft engines by 37 percent by 2030, and at the Helitech 2011 show discussed the strategies it is implementing to accomplish that change. While the company plans to make changes to the engine machinery, it expects much of the reduction to come from engine-airframe integration and new practices that make more efficient use of the engine.
At Turbomeca’s factory in Bordes, southwest France, 2011 production is expected to be close to 1,000 turboshaft engines. The number of annual deliveries dwindled to 800 in 2010, after an average of 750 in the early 2000s and a peak at 1,300 in 2008.
Helicopter engine manufacturer Turbomeca (Hall 2A A232) is busy developing improved models for new Eurocopter variants in the light-single and medium-twin helicopter categories, as well as an engine family that will power China’s and Russia’s forays in medium twins.
A shiny red-and-white Eurocopter AS350B2, newly converted to Honeywell LTS-101-700D2 turbine power, dominates Soloy Aviation’s exhibit here at Heli-Expo2011 (Booth No. 1628). Inside is an operating example of a new electronic engine display soon to be added as an option to the already STC’d Soloy conversion kit for replacing the original Turbomeca Arriel B2 with the Honeywell engine.
Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling, who two years ago was hoping to see a diesel-powered EC120 flying in 2011, in January said this may take place “in a few years.” He cited a need for more progress in reliability. He said power and weight were relatively easier challenges. AIN earlier learned that Eurocopter had difficulties finding the right partner in diesel development.
Engine manufacturer Turbomeca is working 50-50 with Avic Engine, its Chinese counterpart, on the WZ16 turboshaft that will power the Avicopter AC352 medium twin, formerly known as the Z-15 (developed jointly with Eurocopter). Avic Engine is in charge of the compressor and accessory gearbox. The France-based company is responsible for the combustor, turbines and control system.
Two years ago Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling said he hoped to see a diesel-powered EC120 flying in 2011, but this past January he conceded that that milestone event might still be “a few years” in the future. While the company has made progress toward the necessary power and weight reductions, he cited a need for more progress in reliability.
A new General Electric turboprop engine, derived from the 7,500-shp GE38-1B turboshaft engine, could become available by the middle of the decade. GE has designated the new engine study CPX38, and is basing it on the turboshaft that will power the U.S. Marine Corps’ new heavy-lift helicopter, the Sikorsky CH-53K. This could mean that the CPX38 would be in the 5,000- to 6,000-shp range.
Engine manufacturer Turbomeca is revamping its Tech 600 and Tech 800 demonstrators to enhance fuel efficiency in the 500- to 1,000-shp power category and increase power density in the 1,000- to 1,500-shp bracket, respectively. The goal of Techsys, a third demonstrator, is to resduce Fadec costs by 20 percent through simplification.