MDS Coating Technologies has developed an engine compressor coating that it says will drastically reduce blade erosion. The coating, which the company calls Black Gold, could more than double the time on wing for turbine engines and reduce fuel burn by 1% to 3%, depending on the application, the company claims.

Sand ingestion tests funded by the US Department of Defense on the Lockheed Martin C-130 tactical transport's Rolls-Royce T56 engine showed remarkable results, says Marcio Duffles, the company's vice-president for business development.

 C-130 - US Air Force

US Air Force

The Black Gold coating has been demonstrated as reducing erosion on the Hercules' T56 engines

As part of the tests, a new, uncoated T56 engine ingested 612kg (1,350lb) of sand over 50h. Initially, it produced 104% of rated power, but ended the test at only 88%, Duffles says. By comparison, a coated engine that had already accumulated 1,050h ran at between 102% and 97% power. While the uncoated engine was virtually destroyed, the coated example was in surprisingly good shape and sustained only minor damage, he says.

Other parties are also starting to take notice of the MDS coating technology. Boeing is funding a flight demonstration on its special operations-variant MH-47 Chinook transport helicopter in the near future, Duffles says, adding: "We're going through airworthiness qualification right now." Testing should be completed later this year, with Boeing funding the activity as part of an industrial offset package for Canada, where MDS is based.

MDS also hopes to have its coatings flying on a Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey within a year, Duffles says. The company is working with R-R and the US Navy's Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) to run a test programme, where 20 engines will receive MDS's special coatings. NAVAIR is also funding a demonstration programme with the General Electric T700, which is found on the Bell UH-1Y, AH-1Z and Sikorsky MH-60 series aircraft.

MDS is also working with European engine-maker Turbomeca to test its coatings on board the EADS UH-72 Lakota light utility helicopter.

Source: Flight International