The WZ16 turboshaft, with a power more than 1,800 shp, is expected to enter mass production in 2014, for the Z15 (AC352) helicopter series. Eurocopter and Avicopter are jointly developing the 15,000-pound-class EC175/AC352. France-based helicopter engine manufacturer Turbomeca is working on a 50-50 basis with China's AVIC Engine on the WZ16 turboshaft. AVIC Engine is working on the compressor and accessory gearbox, while Turbomeca is responsible for the combustor, turbines and control system. The engine is derived from Turbomeca's Ardiden engine. The agreement covers development, production and support. The two companies committed to have the engine certified in China the year before the AC352 is certified. The AC352 was initially to be offered only with Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67Es, like the Eurocopter EC175.
The latest engine added to the Turbomeca (Safran group) range, the Ardiden is designed for medium helicopters in the 5 to 6.5 ton class, both civil and military. The first application for the new Ardiden turboshaft engine was the Indian twin-engine helicopter Dhruv (formerly known as the Advanced Light Helicopter, or ALH), built by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. Its simple, modular design makes this a very economical powerplant in terms of total cost of ownership. At the same time, the Ardiden is designed to carry out even the most demanding missions, while retaining its performance under hot/high conditions. The first variant, the Ardiden 1H1 (dubbed Shakti in India) was co-developed and co-produced with HAL for the Dhruv helicopter.
Featuring a very simple architecture, the Ardiden engine is composed of three main modules for easy maintenance: the accessory/reduction gearbox, a gas generator, and a power turbine. It offers a potential time between overhauls of up to 6,000 hours. The development of the Ardiden 3 engine for heavy helicopters drew on experience with the Ardiden 1. The general layout is the same, with a dual centrifugal compressor and a free turbine. The only major difference is that the engine will not have a reduction gearbox. Analysis of the weight budget showed that, in this power class, it's better to manage speed reduction (from 21,000 rpm at the turbine shaft to 300 or 400 rpm for the rotor) via the main transmission unit.
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