The Millionaire

The Eurofighter Typhoon, also known as the European defense backbone, reaches the historical milestone of 500,000 flight hours, or one million for its supersonic engines.

november 2018

Every Eurofighter multi-purpose fighter aircraft is equipped with two EJ200 engines - produced by the European consortium EUROJET, in which Rolls Royce, MTU and ITP appear together with Avio Aero - making the latest record achieved by this formidable program, from a propulsion viewpoint, worth twice as much.

In fact, the engine that allows the Typhoon to break the wall of sound, bringing it up to Mach2 speed, has so far totaled more than a million flight hours. While quite sensational, this is quite predictable for the defense aircraft with the largest number of aircraft ordered in the world (623 at present), considered to be Europe's largest industrial defense program. In addition to the national partner air forces in the program (Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany and Spain), another 5 countries have selected the Eurofighter for their fleet. 

In Europe alone, there are currently 549 Typhoons active in seven countries. Each aircraft is designed for a life cycle of about 25 years, or more than 6 thousand flight hours. The number of these aircraft is likely to grow over the years, as is the aircraft's capacity, especially its electronic and digital capabilities. After Austria, Saudi Arabia and Oman, Kuwait and Qatar were the last two countries to invest in the European fighter plane.

The formidable EJ200 engine

As part of the consortium working on the turbo jet EJ200 engines, Avio Aero is responsible for the production and design of the low-pressure turbine (designed with single crystal blades and the most advanced technologies), the accessory drive train, tanks, afterburner, and oil tank and pump. Moreover, there are two products "made in Italy” on the aircraft: the AMAD (Airframe Mounted Accessory Drive) and the auxiliary power unit, both delegated to supply and distribute energy on board the aircraft. Avio Aero is the exclusive partner for engine assistance and maintenance services dedicated to the Typhoon fleet of the Italian Air Force.

With regard to the supply of engines to Kuwait, GE Aviation’s Italian business plays a crucial role: "starting from March 2019, we will deliver the first engine to the Kuwait Air Force. Entry into service of the aircraft is scheduled for 2020. We have begun a very interesting model of collaboration with Kuwait" says Roberto Grillo, Customer Support Leader for Avio Aero. 

"In our plant in Brindisi, more than 200 EJ200 engines have been produced, that today power the Italian national fleet. We offer maintenance and technical service for these engines at the specialized center in Brindisi. Even at the military bases, where the Italian Air Force can count on our experts directly on site, at its side," explains Alessio Gerardi, Technical Manager, who supports every Avio Aero customer that uses the EJ200 in its fleet, along with a team of experts mainly from Brindisi, but by request at numerous air bases.

"Our teams support the 4th “Stormo di Grosseto”, the 36th GEAD of Gioia del Colle, the 37th “Stormo di Trapani” and then the 1st RMV of Cameri, where we collaborate for both the operations and the logistics. In Cameri, we also designed and built the first test cell for the EJ200s of the Italian Air Force" continues Gerardi. "It has been operational since 2016, and together with our Brindisi cell (which inspired it, in a certain sense), it is the only one in the country where these turbo-jets can be tested: more than 80 have been tested so far. We are even thinking, together with the Air Force, about the possibility of creating another new one.”

Avio Aero Tech Specialists performing EJ200 tests inside the Brindisi cell

The model of collaboration mentioned by Roberto Grillo, however, concerns the 28 new Eurofighter (22 single-seater aircraft, and another 6 two-seater) that will be delivered to the Kuwait Air Force. "Avio Aero was subsequently assigned the role of Main Supporting Company by EUROJET, for the first time in an "Export" campaign (so called because out of the NETMA, NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency, ed.)," continues Grillo, "meaning that our company has a key role in the coordination and management EUROJET and the companies of the consortium. In total, the supply includes 60 engines for the Kuwait Air Force over a period of 5 years starting from 2019 - because engines will be assembled on the aircraft in Italy - plus related services for the life of the engine.

The latter have also opened up the possibility of exclusive collaboration for the assembly, testing and general maintenance of the engine. "The maintenance and services agreement includes operational support, which our company translates into assistance and service also performed in Italy, but mostly in the field, at the Kuwait Air Force base, to ensure the maximum operational efficiency to the customer and end user directly.”

Grillo is talking about an ambitious plan of cooperation between Leonardo Velivoli and Kuwait, through the Typhoon Propulsion Support Facility: a latest-generation structure, located and operating in the desert (an extreme scenario especially for aeronautical engines, flying under conditions experts call "Hot & Harsh"). Here the Avio Aero technicians provide technical assistance for the engine, in collaboration with Leonardo Velivoli, alongside the Kuwait Air Force. Assembly, maintenance and testing of the engines will be carried out at the specialized center in Brindisi, too.

Italian Airforce in Gioia del Colle 500k

"Our teams support also the 36th Gioia del Colle GEAD, while with the 1st Cameri RMV we collaborate for operations and logistics, and we designed and built at the base the first test cell for the EJ200 engines"

"The fact that the Eurofighter has been selected also by new Air Forces (such as Kuwait and Qatar), to the detriment of very strong international competition, is a logical consequence of this milestone that confirms the technical and technological solidity of the program", commented Clemente Pescarmona, who has many years of experience in the military field, and not only, for turbo jet engines and currently works on the Kuwait campaign within the EJ200 program at Avio Aero. "It is an exceptional product, both in terms of performance and reliability, which will certainly be able to give our international competition a hard time for many years to come. Especially if the consortium, as I hope, commits to further the technological evolution and technical development of the engine.”

Pescarmona's wish is echoed in the words of Eurofighter CEO, Volker Paltzo, and EUROJET Turbo GmbH CEO, Clemens Linden, who share the vision for this efficient, supersonic, propulsive jewel. The EJ200, like the Eurofighter, they said, shall face the future with a strong, leading, technological heritage, and at the same time must be eager to evolve in terms of performance, reliability and sustainability to reach the next million hours of flight. 

EJ200 first image in the page is courtesy of EUROJET ©

AUTHOR

Yari Bovalino