“We undertook the development and optimization of processes to manufacture CMC first- and second-stage high pressure turbine shrouds (HPTS) for use in the T700 family of turbine engines,” says White. “We anticipate a one-pound reduction in weight, a one percent decrease in fuel consumption, a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, a manufacturing cycle time reduction of 25 percent and a part count reduction of more than 90 percent.”

The CMC HPTS program will see the use of composite materials beyond traditional airframe applications into the extremely demanding environment of gas turbine engines. For this application, material and component qualities are critical to ensuring aircraft performance and operator safety. Engines utilizing advanced CMCs are expected to be required for next-generation rotorcraft in addition to upgrades in the U.S. Army’s legacy fleet.

“While all of these programs not only improve the performance and extend the life of the U.S. Army’s legacy fleet, they also advance the development of future aircraft,” White explains. “There’s an aggressive set of requirements for the next generation rotorcraft. Many of today’s technologies present design and manufacturing challenges in meeting these goals. Composites are not only helping us to improve our legacy aircraft; they’re going to help us enable future aircraft designs to fly higher, farther, faster and with more payload capability.”

Patrice Aylward is a communications consultant based in Cleveland. Email comments to paylward@aol.com.