When an aviation platform passes 50 years of continuous military service, it joins a prestigious, albeit small, group of aircraft. The group gets significantly smaller when another proviso is added, that of being in current production. The Boeing CH-47 Chinook is a member of this elite group, and its august Honeywell T55 gas turbine engine has been with the platform from the beginning.
One of the many advancements on the new CH-47F model, whether a rebuild or an entirely new-build aircraft, is its newest engine, the T55-GA-714A. This turboshaft power features an improved FADEC system and, through various new technologies, runs 70⁰F cooler in comparison to previous models.
Production of the Honeywell (formerly Lycoming) T55 began in 1955. It was an up-scaled version of the T53 of UH-1 Huey fame. The Vietnam War would be the proving ground for the Chinook, and it served with distinction throughout. From the early “A” models to the current “F,” the T55 has seen increases in power (from 2,200 to 4,867 shp) and efficiency. Although the engine has been employed in other aircraft, it is the CH-47 that the T55 calls home. Production is therefore completely dependent on CH-47 manufacture and will follow trends in the military rotorcraft market.
As foreign and domestic militaries finish replacing older rotorcraft in their fleets with newer models, demand for the new CH-47F is expected to decrease. T55 production in 2016 is slated to come in at around 70 units. Production is then forecast to decrease steadily, to 39 units in 2019 and 26 in 2024. Foreign orders are always possible, and any new orders would positively affect production.
Much like the B-52, the Chinook is still in service and its retirement is many years away. Unlike the massive bomber, though, the Chinook remains in production and improvements are folded into new models. The latest CH-47F incarnation and its T55 powerplant will be around for decades to come.
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Forecast International produces two distinct Power Systems products. The Aviation Gas Turbine Forecast presents the 10-year outlook for aviation turbofan, turboprop and turboshaft engines and more. The Industrial & Marine Turbine Forecast covers the markets for gas and steam turbines, mechanical drive engines, and marine power, among others.