CH-53E aircraft

GE’s GE38 turboshaft factory engine for the US Marine Corps (USMC) Sikorsky CH-53K Super Stallion heavy-lift helicopter programme has validated its maturity and durable operating capabilities.

During testing at the company’s facility in Lynn, Massachusetts, and MTU’s in Munich, Germany, four test engines demonstrated their ability to operate in harsh maritime environments for programmes such as the US Navy’s ship-to-shore connector.

Colonel Robert Pridgen, Marine Corps CH-53K programme manager, said: "This system is a critical enabler for the tremendous capability the CH-53K will bring to the Corps. I continue to be optimistic about the performance of this engine."

GE Aviation’s GE38 programme director Paul Acquaviva added that the engines would provide enhanced benefits for existing and future aircraft in its power class while meeting customer requirements.

"This system is a critical enabler for the tremendous capability the CH-53K will bring to the Corps."

To date, some 28 component tests have been conducted to validate the engine’s compliance for environmental requirements.

A fifth factory test engine is scheduled to prove its capability during testing, scheduled to take place in late 2012.

As part of the CH-53K flight test programme, the company has designed and manufactured seven engines to date, while a further 13 remain in development and are scheduled to be complete in the next seven months.

The CH-53K Super Stallion is a large, heavy-lift cargo helicopter and features three 7,500shp (5,590kW) engines, new composite rotor blades, and a wider cabin than previous CH-53 variants.

Equipped with a new digital glass cockpit with fly-by-wire controls, the aircraft incorporates a new elastomeric hub system, a low-maintenance elastomeric rotor head, upgraded engines and a locking cargo rail system.

Image: The CH-53E aircraft, currently in service with the USMC, will be replaced by CH-53K. Photo: courtesy of Alan Radecki Akradecki.