Pratt & Whitney has been awarded a contract for research and development of an advanced variable-speed power turbine (AVSPOT) for the US Army’s rotorcraft.

Under the contract, Pratt & Whitney will develop a turbine technology that will efficiently address the range and lift requirements of the army’s existing and future rotorcraft.

Pratt & Whitney Small Military Engines general manager Annette Jussaume said the company was confident that it would address the mission profile requirements needed for future rotorcraft 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."

"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," Jussaume added.

Pursued jointly by the US Army’s Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD) and Nasa, the AVSPOT programme is focused to produce an advanced turbine technology that will enhance the performance, efficiency, and affordability of rotorcraft engines.

Turbines developed under the programme are expected to enable the future medium and large rotorcraft to hover at up to 10,000ft and cruise at up to 25,000ft altitude, with high-operating efficiency.

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AVSPOT will also help the rotorcraft to operate in 55%-105% speed range, with reduced fuel consumption, cost, weight and durability, as opposed to the existing power turbines that enable performance in the 95%-105% speed range.

Posing significant challenges, the concept of enabling greater power and rotor speed for takeoff and climb, as well as slower optimised rotor speed at cruise will be addressed by the company using a technological approach that reduces power turbine speed while enhancing its efficiency.

Although the programme’s future mission requirements are still in the discussion stage, the AVSPOT technology is expected to be evaluated by the army in a laboratory environment in 2016.