T408: Powerplant for the Sikorsky CH-53K

Industry leaders attended the 30th International Helicopter Forum in Bückeburg, Germany, where top-name manufacturers such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky and Airbus presented their products. At the trade event, MTU showcased the technology behind the T408 engine powering Sikorsky’s CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter.


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MTU Aero Engines hosted its own booth at the 30th International Helicopter Forum in Bückeburg, Germany. Manufacturers such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky and Airbus were also exhibiting at the event, where they held presentations on industry topics. The highlight of the tightly packed program, which featured all the latest developments and emerging technologies in the industry, was the topic of “The heavy-lift transport helicopter of the future”.

After being in service with the German armed forces for the last 45 years, the Sikorsky CH-53G now has a likely successor: the CH-53K powered by GE Aviation T408 engines. MTU develops and produces the powerplant’s three-stage power turbine, the exhaust casing and the output shaft. At its booth, MTU showcased an original T408 engine. “Compared to its predecessor the T64, the T408 is one-and-a-half times more powerful and delivers an 18-percent reduction in specific fuel consumption. What’s more, it incorporates less than half the number of components,” says Wolfgang Gärtner, director of helicopter engine programs at MTU.

Colonel Hank Vanderborght and test pilot Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Morel, both from the United States Marine Corps, reported on their experiences of operating the powerplant. Deliveries of the engine are expected to start in 2018 to power 200 CH-53K heavy-lift helicopters. Furthermore, Dr. Andreas Bernhard, chief engineer at Sikorsky, explained his vision regarding the CH-53K. At the center of all the discussions was Sergei I. Sikorsky. The 92-year-old son of Igor Sikorsky, legendary founder of the Sikorsky Aircraft Cooperation, captivated his audience with insights into the history of aviation. Many of his listeners approached him afterwards for an autograph.

Experts in front of the T408 Sergei I. Sikorsky (center), son of the founder of Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, with Wolf Baenkler (left) and Torsten Stache, both from MTU Aero Engines.

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