Turbomeca’s new engine, the Arrano, was one of two alternative originally selected for Airbus Helicopters new medium class helicopter, the X4 (now revealed by its new name as the H160). Recently, Airbus revealed that Turbomeca alone would be the engine to power the H160.
Andrew Drwiega (AD): What were the origins of the Arrano engine?
Patrick Moncoutie (PM): We launched the programme for the X4 (now the H160) in 2012 but we had experience from a technology demonstrator, the Tech 800, which was started in 2008. The reason behind this was to introduce new technology into engines of 800kw, which is the Arrano size. This was partially funded by the European Clean Sky initiative launched in 2008, but mostly through Turbomeca. [Clean Sky is a Public Private Partnership between the European Commission and industry.] The main target was the reduction of the engine’s fuel consumption.
When we started it was the TM800 which then became the Arrano engine (‘the Eagle’ – everything is related to the Pyranees). The idea was to launch the engine programme with the Airbus Helicopters X4 programme.
AD: What is the status of the engine programme at the moment?
PM: The development of the Arrano is on track and the engine has been on test for one year now. We introduced new technology into the Arrano that had been proven by 2012.
AD: So how did that link with the X4 happen?
PM: We didn’t have an engine that matched the requirement of the X4. We had a gap between the Arriel family and the Ardiden (1,000hp to 1,400hp – the Arrano strategy was to introduce an engine in the 1100hp-1200hp range). Fortunately it was a good decision, although originally it was slightly bigger than the X4 specification required of 1,100hp from Airbus Helicopter. But at the end of last year the requirement was raised by another 10%.
We had to accelerate our plans. The Airbus objective was to have the X4 flying in 2015 but the Arrano flight clearance was planned for mid-2016. So we needed to add more power and accelerate the planning to save six months. So we will now deliver the engine at the end of 2015 which is compliant with the new requirement.
AD: What have you had to do internally to allow that to happen?
PM: The gap is not too big but we believed that we are capable of doing it. Before that we have to deliver engines next month for the ‘dynamic helicopter’ (traditionally know as the iron bird). But it is a real helicopter, and will be able to do everything other than take-off; it is much more than an iron bird. It has everything inside.
AD: What are your milestones now?
PM: We are targeting certification for the end of 2017 in order to be ready for the entry into service of the X4 in 2018 as announced by Airbus Helicopter.
AD: How big is the team behind the Arrano?
PM: Of course we have hundreds of suppliers on the project, but we have more than 100 people dedicated internally from designers to testers.
AD: Has this been a fairly standard engine development?
PM: We started with the innovative Clean Sky project and the technical demonstrator. If you look from the launch in mid-2012 to the entry into service in 2018 that is six years – quite a long time to develop an engine. But when you have new technology inside, it is necessary to fine-tune the design and test it to achieve the performance required. It takes time if you want innovation and new technology.
AD: So how do you summarise the qualities of the Arrano?
PM: One of the main design priorities was two reduce the fuel consumption by between 10-15% compared to the previous generation of engine. That is important to us because Airbus will exceed 20% performance gain and the combination of both leads to big steps forward. Reduced fuel costs are good for the operator and lead to longer ranges which is good for the operator.
AD: So this won’t lead to any change in a customer’s service strategy for the engine will it?
PM: Absolutely not.
AD: Thank you.
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