General Electric plans to run the CF34-8C1 engine for the first time this month, following assembly at its Lynn plant of the initial powerplant destined for Bombardier's Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ)-700.

The first engine-to-test stage marks the start of an intensive test phase, with 15 full engines due to be involved. A core engine has also been assembled and will soon begin instrumented test runs. A second complete test engine is also nearing final assembly at Ishikawajima Harima Heavy Industries in Japan and will begin test runs in March aimed at evaluations of the fan and low-pressure-turbine stress, says CF34-8C1 programme manager Tracy Moore.

A four-month flight-test phase is scheduled to get under way in November on the company-owned Boeing 747 testbed. Canadair then expects to start CRJ-700 flight tests around May 1999, with certification due in the fourth quarter of that year. Eight engines will be produced for Canadair's part of the programme.

The CF34-8C1 programme is on schedule, says GE, despite the prolonged clearance of a revised containment system. This was upgraded from the baseline CF34 design to absorb the higher energy of the -8C1 fan, which is 1.17m in diameter compared to the standard powerplant's 1.11m. The challenge was made greater by the higher thrust rating of the -8C1 which, rated at 61.4kN (13,790lb) thrust, will be almost double the power of the earlier models at its automatic power reserve setting. "We've successfully tested the design for fan containment with a Kevlar ring in place of the original aluminium design," says Moore.

Despite the strengthening of the containment ring, the test team is confident that the powerplant will meet (or will exceed) its installed-weight targets.

"We have a programme to manage the weight and always counted for weight growth in the development. We are still well within our margins," she says.

In other component tests "everything so far has been successful," according to Moore.

Source: Flight International