Commercial, Military

GE Sees Bright Decade Ahead in Military and Commercial Aircraft Engines

By Frank Wolfe | June 17, 2019
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In addition to being part of the U.S. Army's plans for Future Vertical Lift, ITEP is to install GE T901 engines on Boeing AH-64 Apaches and Lockheed Martin UH-60 Black Hawks, such as this one. (Lockheed Martin Photo)

PARIS AIR SHOW--Bolstered by its win in February in the U.S. Army Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP), General Electric [GE] sees a bright decade ahead in military and commercial aircraft engines.

Tony Mathis, vice president and general manager of GE military systems; Bill Fitzgerald, vice president and general manager of commercial engine operations, and Jean Lydon-Rodgers, vice president and general manager of  commercial engine services, briefed reporters at the air show on June 17.

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ITEP is likely worth billions of dollars as the new engines are to power Sikorsky [LMT] UH-60 Black Hawks, Boeing [BA] AH-64 attack helicopters and variants of the Future Vertical Lift program, including the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA). The Army selected the GE T901 single-spool engine for ITEP.

GE said that it sees global growth opportunities amid a four percent increase in the U.S. defense budget this year and said that it has transitioned more than 1,000 of its engineers to military programs.

ITEP seeks an engine that is 50 percent more powerful, 25 percent more fuel efficient, and lasts 20 percent longer than the current Black Hawk and Apache T700 engines by GE — engines that GE said have run more than 100 million flight hours with the Army. GE said that the T901 "meets or exceeds" ITEP requirements, including those for reduced life cycle costs.

In the offing are other lucrative opportunities for GE. To re-engine Boeing [BA] B-52 bombers, GE Aviation is looking to dethrone Pratt & Whitney [UTX], which builds the current TF33-PW-103 engines for the aircraft and is marketing new PW815 engines for a looming Air Force RFP. Rolls-Royce is also a likely bidder, and GE Aviation has two engines in mind -- the CF34-10 engine and the Passport. A contract award is expected in fiscal year 2020.

The Air Force has budgeted $65 million for the re-engining in fiscal 2019.

In March, GE Aviation said that it finished the detailed design process of its XA100 adaptive cycle engine for the Air Force's Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP)--a $437 million contract modification for risk reduction on next generation propulsion. The engine is to increase combat aircraft thrust by more than 10 percent, improve fuel efficiency by 25 percent, and provide significantly more aircraft heat dissipation capacity. GE believes such engines could be a key part of the F-35 and sixth-generation fighter programs.

On the training side, the GE F404 engine is to power the Boeing/Saab T-X Advanced Pilot Training System, which is to replace the Northrop Grumman [NOC] T-38 Talon as the Air Force training jet.

For the U.S. Navy, GE's F414 engine is to power the Boeing F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet into the middle of the next decade, and GE is studying an upgrade for these engines. GE also said that it provides 97 percent of the Navy's propulsion gas turbines and that more than 1,200 GE LM2500 marine gas turbines operate globally. The latter engines have more than 16 million hours in service for 33 navies, according to GE.

For the U.S. Marine Corps, GE is building 22 T408-400 engines for the Sikorsky [LMT] CH-53K Sea Stallions in Lynn, Mass. Boeing also plans to demonstrate use of the T408 for the Army's CH-47 Chinook.

On the commercial side, GE plans to unveil at the Paris Air Show its huge GE9X engine for the Boeing 777X liner. GE said that the engine on display will be the First Engine To Test article.

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