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Pratt & Whitney to Develop Variable Speed Turbine for Army Rotorcraft

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The program aims to develop a power turbine that would allow future medium and large rotorcraft to hover at up to 10,000ft.

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Manufacturing Group November 28, 2012

Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp., has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Army to research and develop an Advanced Variable-Speed Power Turbine (AVSPOT) to meet the range and lift requirements for current and future force rotorcraft. The AVSPOT program is an initiative by the U.S. Army's Aviation Applied Technology Directorate, in collaboration with NASA, to develop turbine technology that improves performance, efficiency, and affordability of rotorcraft engines, and to validate that technology in a laboratory environment by 2016.

Although future mission requirements are still being considered, the program aims to develop a power turbine that would allow future medium as well as large rotorcraft to hover at up to 10,000ft and cruise at up to 25,000ft altitude while maintaining high operating efficiency. Whereas current state of the art power turbines operate in the 95% to 105% speed range, AVSPOT is intended to allow rotorcraft to optimize power turbine speed in the range of 55% to 105% while optimizing fuel consumption, cost, weight, and durability.

There are significant challenges to enabling the higher power and rotor speed needed for takeoff and climb, as well as slower optimized rotor speed at cruise.  To address these challenges, Pratt & Whitney is pursuing a technological approach that reduces the speed of the power turbine while optimizing its efficiency.

"Pratt & Whitney looks forward to participating in the AVSPOT program, and we're confident we will be able to meet the mission profile requirements needed for future rotorcraft engines," says Annette Jussaume, general manager, Small Military Engines. "We have the technology know-how that will allow us to develop an efficient high-power turbine that can operate over a wide range of engine speeds."

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