We find out what it’s like to fight wildfires during a pandemic, look at 10 years and 1,000 deliveries of the Robinson R66, learn about helicopters on rice pollination ops, and get the lowdown on 5 State Helicopters and Heli Connections.
The Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP) successfully completed its latest major milestone, critical design review (CDR), utilizing a completely virtual environment. Overseen by the Aviation Turbine Engines (ATE) Project Office within Program Executive Office (PEO) Aviation, the Improved Turbine Engine (ITE) Product Office worked alongside General Electric (GE) Aviation to successfully complete each of the three CDR events.
The engine control system component (ECSC) CDR, software CDR, and engine system CDR were completed using virtual collaboration tools exclusively, a first for a major milestone event. The ECSC CDR was completed on June 1-5, the software CDR was completed on July 13-17, and the engine systems CDR was completed on July 20-24. During the last two weeks of the CDR, the ITE Product Office hosted hundreds of stakeholders as GE Aviation and its suppliers briefed the GE T901 engine detailed design for the software and programmable hardware. The CDR was concluded with the capstone engine system CDR event. Conducting the CDR entirely through virtual platforms and holding to an intensive schedule exemplified the program’s unfailing dedication to meeting a high standard of quality, precision, and collaboration despite unforeseen circumstances and obstacles.
Lt. Col. Travis Harris, product manager for the ITEP, credited the team’s dedication as the key to the CDR event’s success.
“I’m extremely proud of the entire team for completing the CDR with minimal delays while dealing with challenges caused by Covid-19. The GE team and all USG stakeholders accepted the fate that we would execute the CDR through a virtual environment, and found strategies to complete the CDR to the same standard as an in person review,” said Harris.
By completing the CDR milestone in July, ITEP is postured to execute the first engine to test (FETT) no later than the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2021. FETT will be the next critical milestone for the program. All of the subcomponents will be assembled and the engine will be started for the first time. Furthermore, this is the event that kicks off the testing required to complete the preliminary flight rating which is crucial to permit the future attack reconnaissance aircraft (FARA) competitive prototypes (CP) to conduct their first flights. As a critical component to the FARA CP first flight, ITEP is maintaining acceleration targets to ensure it meets the FARA timeline.
As ITEP continues to push for acceleration, ensuring the safety of the team and maintaining delivery of a quality product will remain the top priorities, especially during the unprecedented Covid-19 global pandemic. PEO Aviation, the ATE Project Office and GE Aviation are continuously assessing potential effects of COVID-19, but the immediate and long-term impacts of this pandemic are still not fully recognized. However, the success of CDR as the first virtually conducted major milestone demonstrates that COVID-19 will not slow down modernization of Army Aviation. The ITEP CDR is just the first of many achievements to be made by top modernization programs during this time of the “new normal” for Army Acquisition.