T901 Engine Passes First Phase Of Tests

Despite COVID-19 challenges, GE’s T901 Improved Turbine Engine has stayed on schedule.
Credit: GE Aviation

General Electric has completed the first phase of testing on the T901 turboshaft engine in development for the U.S. Army’s current and future rotorcraft, the company said July 7. 

The first of the 3,000shp.-class engines in the development program has completed more than 100 hr. of run time since an initial “light off” event on March 22, GE says. 

The next step in development will begin in the fall with the start of testing for the Preliminary Flight Rating (PFR), GE says. 

The roughly year-long series of PFR tests will evaluate how the T901 performs against military airworthiness certification standards.

The testing is critical in the development plans for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program. 

The Army requires that both competitors for the FARA contract—the Bell 360 Invictus and Sikorsky Raider X—must use the T901 in production. 

A key step in the FARA competition is a flight evaluation between competitive prototypes of the 360 Invictus and Raider X. 

If PFR testing is delayed, the Army can use the less powerful YT706 turboshaft engines, but prefers to evaluate the competitive prototypes with T901s installed. 

The T901 program also plans to re-engine the GE T700 engines installed in Boeing AH-64 Apaches and Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks. 

A nine-month delay caused by COVID pandemic disruptions already has led to the Army extending the deadline for awarding the FARA contract by nearly two years to mid-2025. Despite the delay to starting the development phase, the Army has not changed the initial fielding date for the first FARA aircraft unit in mid-2030.