Testing of the TF33 Pratt and Whitney engine is being conducted at Arnold Engineering Development Center to verify and validate newly redesigned components of the engine.
The TF33 has powered several different military airframes, including the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, E-3 Sentry (AWACS) and the E-8 Joint STARS.
Second Lt. Karlie Madden, the AEDC project manager for the test, stated that the engine currently being tested is a 17,000-pound thrust variant used aboard the B-52H Stratofortress airframe.
“The testing at AEDC is to verify and validate the structural integrity and durability of a redesigned inlet case and turbine exhaust case,” she said. “The test also includes accelerated mission testing which simulates approximately one-half of an overhaul cycle of testing on the engine, running approximately 690 sea-level operating hours. Multiple performance calibrations have been performed to determine if there are any new performance standards that stem from the redesigned components.”
The testing took place in one of the AEDC Engine Test Facility sea level test cells during the summer and wrapped up in November. The test was requested by the TF33 Systems Program Office of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Propulsion Directorate (AFLCMC/LPS) at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.
Though tested at AEDC before, it was the first installation of the TF33 in this sea level test cell.
The last TF33 test was conducted in the ETF C-2 test cell in 1995, during which AEDC characterized cold weather starting techniques between JP4 and JP8 jet fuel.
Of the most recent test, James Burt, a TF33 equipment specialist with the AFLCMC/LPS, commented that working with AEDC on the TF33 accelerated mission testing proved to be an “outstanding experience.”
“We have had no engine issues and all test cell issues were worked and resolved very quickly with little to no test down time,” he said. “This has resulted in the smoothest TF33 AMT test to date and allowed the test to complete ahead of schedule.”
Testing was also completed early and 55 successful air periods were performed in 61 days, making the project successful both technically and financially.