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Mako trainer to get GE powerplant

GUY NORRIS / LOS ANGELES

Partnerships to "Europeanise" variant included in teaming agreement as EADS plumps for higher thrust of F414

EADS has selected the General Electric F414 turbofan engine for the Mako advanced trainer and light attack aircraft under an exclusive teaming agreement covering a two-year definition phase. This includes designing engine-airframe interfaces, developing control system scheduling and setting up partnerships to "Europeanise" the planned F414M variant.

The F414 was the most powerful engine considered for the Mako, beating competition from the Snecma M88 and Eurojet EJ200. "One of the reasons we won was the higher thrust of the F414," says GE F404/414 general manager George Bolin. The 22,000lb- thrust (98kN) F414-400 is already in production for the Boeing F/A-18E/F.

The earlier DASA-led AT2000 study had considered using different engines, or growth variants, for the trainer and combat versions, with GE initially proposing the F404 and F414, respectively. "We were able to define a de-rated concept for the F414 which gives a significant increase in life and an outstanding life-cycle cost estimate for the trainer version," says Bolin.

Depending on the final derated thrust level, the trainer could have potential life cycle limits of about 10,000h between major overhauls. Other reasons for GE's win, according to Bolin, include the extensive 100,000 flight hour experience already amassed with the F414, and the company's familiarity with single-engined experience on the F404 and F110.

System redundancy and safety features to be added to the F414M will include a dual-channel, full-authority digital engine control system, originally developed for the F404-402 and added to the F404-102 version used in the rival Korean Aerospace/Lockheed Martin T-50 advanced trainer. Additional modifications will include dual ignitors and redundant actuators for variable geometry stators in the compressor.

GE expects to offer "build-share" partnerships with FiatAvio, ITP, MTU and Volvo to "Europeanise" the engine. Volvo's partnership with GE on the RM12, in which it has 36% workshare, is the model for the F414M. Foreign content would also extend to European raw materials, controls and accessory suppliers.

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