COURCOURONNES, France: The first test flight of a Rafale fighter
powered by the Snecma (Safran group) M88-4E engine (formerly designated
the “TCO Pack”, for total cost of ownership) took place on March 22 at
the Istres air base in southern France.
Lasting 1 hour and 30 minutes, the flight was a total success, and
was used to expand the flight envelope. The complete test campaign for
the M88-4E engine comprises some 70 flights in 2010, with different engine configurations. Ten test flights have been carried out to date.
“We are satisfied with the successful initial flights of the M88-4E,
the third major engine upgrade, reflecting our continuing focus on research
& development. The latest evolution of the engine enables us to
better meet the expectations of our customer, by helping decrease the
Rafale’s maintenance costs,” said Didier Desnoyer, Snecma’s Vice
President Military Engines.
The development of the M88-4E is proceeding very satisfactorily. The
first ground test of the engine was performed in September 2009.
Development engines are now undergoing ground performance and endurance
tests, and a series of altitude chamber tests was completed in late
February. Qualification and delivery of the first production-standard
M88-4E is now slated for the end of 2011.
In January 2008, French defense procurement agency DGA awarded
Snecma the “TCO Pack” contract for the M88-2 engine. The aim of this
contract was to extend the service life and time between inspections
for several parts of the engine. Modifications mainly concern the
high-pressure compressor and turbine.
Designed for the Rafale multirole fighter, the M88 is the first
member of a family of new-generation engines intended for 21st century
combat and advanced training aircraft. The M88-2 now powers all air force
and naval versions of the Rafale. It is particularly well suited to
low-altitude penetration and high-altitude interception missions.
Snecma, a Safran group company, is one of the world’s leading
manufacturers of aircraft and space engines, with a wide range of
propulsion systems on offer. The company designs and builds commercial aircraft
engines – including the CFM56* world’s leader – that are powerful,
reliable, economical and environmentally friendly, along with military
aircraft engines that have always delivered world-class performance.
Snecma also develops and produces propulsion systems and equipment for
launch vehicles and satellites. Snecma also offers a complete range of engine maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services to airlines, armed forces and operators.