Safran unveils new Aneto engine, with AW189K as launch aircraft

Safran Helicopter Engines has found a launch customer for its long-discussed engine family in the 2,500- to 3,000-shaft horsepower (shp) range – the Aneto – and it is an evolution of a helicopter so far powered by General Electric (GE) – the Leonardo AW189.

The Aneto-1K, which will power the Leonardo AW189K, is the first member in Safran's new 2,500- to 3,000-shp family of turboshafts. Leonardo Helicopters Photo
The Aneto-1K, which will power the Leonardo AW189K, is the first member in Safran’s new 2,500- to 3,000-shp family of turboshafts. Leonardo Helicopters Photo
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The Aneto-1K will equip the AW189K super medium twin, giving it 28 percent more power at takeoff – at 2,544 shp per engine – than the CT7-2E1. Emergency power with one engine inoperative in the AW189K will be 2,977 shp.

The Aneto family uses both Safran’s experience with the RTM 322 in the military field and several technology bricks from its Tech 3000 demonstrator. Certification of the engine is planned for the third quarter of 2018, according to Florent Chauvancy, Safran’s VP for heavy helicopter engine programs.

The engine has been flying on the AW189K since March at Leonardo’s flight-test center in Cascina Costa, near Milan, Italy. As of Oct. 3, the AW189K had flown more than 40 hours across 35 flights, according to Claudio Nittoli, AW189 program manager.

According to Leonardo, the Aneto-1K allows the AW189 to “respond to market demand, particularly in hot-and-high conditions.” The airframe OEM said the AW189K would better leverage the versatility of the super-medium platform, “which is not just a long range offshore or SAR [search-and-rescue] helicopter.”

The aircraft’s entry into service is scheduled for late 2018.

For its new product, Safran claims a 25 percent increase in power-to-weight ratio, compared to existing engines of the same size. The Aneto family will include “potentially three” members for helicopters in the 8-15 metric ton class. The Airbus Helicopters X6, which will succeed the Super Puma family, is widely expected to be the next application.

The architecture is the same as that of the RTM 322 – a four-stage compressor (three axial stages and one centrifugal stage), a two-stage high-pressure turbine, and a two-stage low-pressure turbine. But Chauvancy made it clear the engine it is not a variant of the RTM 322; the Aneto – named after the highest peak in the Pyrenees – will have its own type certificate and no part in common with the RTM 322.

One distinctive feature of the new engine is the number of parts that use additive manufacturing. They can be found in the compressor’s stators for instance, some of these parts being “critical,” the company said. The dual-channel fadec is new, and the high-pressure turbine employs unspecified new materials.

Meanwhile, work continues on Safran’s Tech 3000 demonstration program. “Some technology bricks have to be validated,” Chauvancy explained. The most powerful versions in the Aneto family will be certified after 2020, and the upper power limit will be somewhere between 3,000- and 3,500-shp, according to Chauvancy.

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But the Aneto is not all about power. “We twisted the arms of our engineers¾ having the best engine is not enough, maintenance should be considered from the beginning of the design phase,” Chauvancy said. As a result, maintenance technicians may expect three times less maintenance tasks, compared to the existing GE engine on the AW189.

As for fuel burn reduction, the Aneto promises “up to 15 percent better fuel consumption over existing engines in the same category,” once all Tech 3000 technologies are integrated.

Moreover, it is compatible with a hybridized architecture, Chauvancy said. The idea in such a system is that one engine can be shut down during cruise flight (or let run at idle power) for a better overall efficiency and, if needed, restarted very quickly. Full power could be regained in 10 seconds, the company claimed. Fuel consumption could thus be cut by another 15 percent or more, Chauvancy suggested. Safran ran a hybridized RTM 322 on a test bed last year.

The combustors of the Aneto’s next versions will use a concept inaugurated with the smaller Arrano – a stabilized flame in a swirling flow of mixed air and fuel in the combustor. As fewer fuel nozzles are needed, weight and cost are reduced, while efficiency and operability are improved.

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