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17 TURBOSHAFT ENGINES
17.1 INTRODUCTION.

Gas turbine engines that deliver power through a shaft to operate something other
than a propeller are referred to as turboshaft engines. In most cases the output shaft
(power takeoff), is driven by its own power turbine (free turbine), which extracts the
majority of the total power output from the engines gas generator. Turboshaft
engines with a reduction gear are used to power boats, ships, hovercraft, trains and
cars. They are also used to pump natural gas across country and to drive various
kinds of industrial equipment such as air compressors or large electric generators (fig
17.1.)

An Industrial Turboshaft Engine.


Figure 17.1.

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In aviation turboshaft engines are used to power many of the modern helicopters in
service. They are similar in design to turboprop engines and in some instances will
use the same gas generator section design. The turboshaft power takeoff may be
coupled to, and driven directly by the turbine that drives the compressor, but is more
likely to be driven by a turbine of its own. Engines using a separate turbine for power
takeoff are called free power turbine engines, and it is this type of engine that is most
commonly used in todays modern fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft. Atypical
example of a turboprop/turboshaft engine is the Pratt and Whitney PT 6. (figure
17.2.)

The Pratt and Whitney (Canada) PT6 turboprop engine is a popular free turbine
engine that can be adapted to both turboprop and turboshaft applications.
Figure 17.2.
A free power turbine engine consists of two main units; the gas generator and the
free power turbine. In the example shown in Figure 17.2. air enters the engine and is
compressed, then heated in the combustion chamber . The resulting expansion
forces the gas at high velocity through the gas generator turbine that drives the
compressor. The remaining gas energy is then used to drive the power turbine, which
in turn drives the power output shaft.
The free power turbine is mechanically independent of the of the gas generator and
operates at virtually a constant speed. The power developed by the turbine is varied
to meet changing loads imposed on the rotor system, by increasing or decreasing the
fuel supplied to the gas generator, thus altering the gas generator speed and the
supply of gas energy to the power turbine.
As mentioned previously, the turboshaft engine is used to power many of todays
modern helicopters, and to this end we will concentrate on the application of the
turboshaft engine in the field of aviation.

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The turboshaft engine and the helicopter are ideal companions. The engine is
required to respond to frequent and sudden changes in power demands to keep the
helicopter rotor revolving at a virtually constant speed (250-300 RPM being typical).
The power required to drive the rotor is determined by the pitch angle of the main
rotor blades, this angle is being controlled by the pilot using the collective pitch lever.
The pilot changes the flight path of the aircraft by using the cyclic pitch control lever,
by tilting the rotor head. Control of the tail rotor to compensate for the torque
produced by the main rotor is via foot pedals similar to rudder pedals (fig 17.3.).
Whenever a control is activated, the resultant force is sensed by the rotor gearbox
and in turn sensed by the power output shaft of the engine which means that the
engine power must be adjusted to suit.

Flight Controls of a Typical Single Main Rotor Helicopter.


Figure 17.3.

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The power output of a free power turbine engine can be changed rapidly because its
output speed is independent of the power produced, the latter being dependant on
the gas generator speed. The low inertia of the gas generator rotor allows its speed
to be changed very quickly, by adjusting the flow of fuel available for combustion.
This is achieved in the fuel control system invariably by a computer (electronic or
mechanical) controlling the throttling valve. The pilot selects the rotor speed and the
fuel control system automatically maintains that speed, within the limits set by the
governing characteristics of the system and the operating limitations of the engine.
As the fuel control system is automatic, the pilot is relieved of the necessity to
constantly manipulate the throttle control.
The control parameters being monitored and used for a typical turboshaft engine
would include:
Parameter
Gas generator speed (N2)
Free power turbine speed (N1)
Power turbine inlet temperature (PTIT)
Main rotor speed (Nr)
Throttle valve position
Torque

Destination
Computer and cockpit gauge
Computer and cockpit gauge
Computer and cockpit gauge
Cockpit gauge
Computer
Cockpit gauge and computer (torque
matching engines)

17.2 FUEL CONTROL SYSTEM


The computer controls the fuel flow to the engine to maintain a constant rotor RPM.
During normal operation the optimum engine/rotor speed is selected by a speed
selector lever, and the varying power demands are met thereafter by the automatic
fuel computer. The computer varies the rates of fuel flow to the engines to suit the
changing power demands occasioned by alterations of rotor blade pitch.
The position of the throttle valve is set by an electric actuator controlled by the
computer. The speed select lever in the cockpit is directly connected to the computer,
and by operating this lever the pilot can select a power turbine speed that is
maintained by the computer within built in control laws.
In addition to speed selector lever positions , the computer receives signals of power
turbine speed N1, gas generator speed N2, power turbine inlet temperature (PTIT),
collective pitch angular movement via an anticipator, and throttle position. In the
computer the signal representing actual power turbine speed is compared with the
sped selector lever position , and any difference causes a signal to be transmitted
from the computer to the throttle actuator, which adjusts the throttle opening
accordingly. I however this were to cause the PTIT to exceed a pre-determined value
or to increase at too rapid a rate, the computer signal is modified so that the throttle
is held or closed until the PTIT is reduced to a safe level.
The function of the anticipator is to provide signals proportional to change of
collective pitch angle.

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Computer Signalling.
Figure 17.4.

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17.3 ARRANGEMENTS
Because of the need for turboshaft engines to be installed in a variety of aircraft,
coupled with the requirement to fit two or more engines, giving more power and
adding safety. The turboshaft engine has to be able to output its drive from a variety
of different locations. Typical examples of this ability can be seen in Figure 17.5. to
17.9.
Figure 17.5. shows the different ways in which the Rolls Royce Gem engine can be
configured to suit different aircraft designs.

Different Ways Power can be Taken From the Rolls Royce Gem Engine.
Figure 17.5.

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Turboshaft engines can be located forward or behind the main transmission gearbox.
The Westland Lynx has two Rolls Royce Gem engines mounted aft of the gearbox
driving through couplings at the front of the engines fig 17.6. It can be seen from the
illustration how the engine/gearbox unit is quite compact.

The Rolls Royce Gem Installation in the Westland Lynx Helicopter.


Figure 17.6.
Another twin engined installation is that which can be found fitted to numerous
Sikorsky and Westland helicopters. these are fitted ahead of the main gearbox, so
that the output shaft and coupling projects from the rear of each engine. the location
of all the previously mentioned layouts permits very easy maintenance and engine
changes due to the unobstructed access to the engines. Figure 17.7 shows the S61N model which has two 1400 S.H.P. turboshaft engines.

The Rolls Royce Gnome Engine Installation in a Westland S61N.


Figure 17.7.

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Finally there are a few other installations on helicopters, using turboshaft engines,
that show the flexibility in the way these engines can be mounted to suit the
designers needs. The little Hughes 500 series (fig 17.8.) has a small 400+ S.H.P.
engine, installed at an angle, driving upwards at 45 to the main gearbox.

The Engine Installation in a Hughes 500.


Figure 17.8.

The large E.H. 101 helicopter (fig 17.9.), however has not only three engines, each of
2,000 S.H.P., installed above the decking and all feeding into the main gearbox, but
there is an Auxiliary Power unit installed alongside the No.2 engine as well.

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The EH101 Engine Layout.


Figure 17.9.

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17.4 DRIVE SYSTEMS

Because gas turbine engines rotate at extremely high speeds, and the main rotor of a
helicopter needs to rotate at a fairly low, constant speed the output drive of a
turboshaft engine must incorporate some form of reduction gearing. Some engines
have their reduction gearing installed within the engine so that their output shaft is at
a usable speed, which can be further reduced to a rotor speed by the main rotor
gearbox. Figure 17.10. is of the reduction gearbox fitted to the front of a Rolls Royce
Gem turboshaft engine. The gearbox takes the 27,000 RPM output of the power
turbine shaft, and through the two stage epicyclic gear train, reduce it to
approximately 6000 RPM, a speed reduction of some 4.5:1. At this speed it can be
directly coupled to the main rotor gearbox, which will reduce it further to
approximately 250-300 RPM. This reduction mechanism allows the engine to be
used not only in helicopters but also in a number of different situations such as
powering marine craft, power generating stations and pumping stations etc. This use
of the turboshaft engine is very common and even engines as large as the Rolls
Royce RB 211 series are used for such purposes.
Other types of turboshaft engines will, because their power turbine rotational speed
which is not so high, provide a direct power output to a separate reduction gearbox,
in the case of a helicopter, the main rotor gearbox. A typical example of this is the
power output shaft is Rolls Royce Gnome turboshaft engine fitted to the Westland S61N helicopter (fig 17.11.)

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Rolls Royce Gem Engine Reduction Gearbox.


Figure 17.10.

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Rolls Royce Gnome Power Turbine and Drive.


Figure 17.11.

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17.5 COUPLINGS
Because of the requirement to make maintenance tasks such as engine
removal/refit, gearbox removal/refit easier, it is necessary to have a means of
coupling the turboshafts output shaft to the helicopter main rotor gearbox input shaft
together. This coupling must possess qualities which will allow movement of both the
engine and the rotor gearbox independently of each other i.e. it must be flexible. It
must also be finely balanced to reduce vibration.
One of the most common couplings in use is the Thomas Coupling, sometimes
referred to as the engine high speed drive shaft (fig 17.12.). The engine is joined to
the main rotor gearbox by this high speed drive shaft. The shaft is belled at either
end , one end being attached to the power take off shaft by means of Thomas flexible
steel coupling. Each coupling consists of a number of steel discs, indexed by flats to
ensure correct alignment when assembled. Two different numbered discs are used,
each disc having a grain running either parallel to the flat or perpendicular to the flat.
The discs are assembled alternately with the grains at 90 to each other. The bolts,
nuts and washers securing the shaft to the engine are part of the fine balancing of
the assembly and must always be replaced in the same position.

Thomas Coupling.

Figure 17.12.

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Yet another method of coupling the engines power output to the main gearbox is
shown in Figure 17.13.
The engine front mounting is bolted with the reduction gearbox to the hub of the
air-intake case; it supports the engine in the aircraft and serves as a torque reaction
point. The mounting, which is of the gimbal type, is bolted to a gimbal ring, which is
bolted to a similar mounting on the aircraft main gearbox, thus forming a gimbal
coupling.
The engine output drive is transmitted to the aircraft main gearbox by a flanged
coupling, which is secured via a flexible laminated disc coupling (Thomas Coupling)
to a drive assembly. The drive assembly consists of an engine coupling and an
aircraft main gearbox coupling bolted together, with a flexible laminated disc coupling
(Thomas Coupling) at each end.

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The Thomas Coupling and Gimbal Mount of a Gem Engine.


Figure 17.13.

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Finally as an example of the end product of a typical, turboshaft engines power


output Figure 17.14. shows the main rotor gearbox of a Westland S-61N helicopter.
The two engines are Rolls Royce Gnome 1400 series turboshaft engines, each
producing approximately 1400 S.H.P. Figure 17.15. shows the gearbox together with
its monitoring devices and transmission.
The free-wheel system enables disconnection of one or both the engines in the event
of failure.

S-61N Rotor Gearbox.


Figure 17.14.

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Seaking/S-61 Transmission System.


Figure 17.15.

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Intentionally Blank

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