At a press conference at the Heli-Expo in Las Vegas, Rolls-Royce senior vice president, helicopters, Greg Fedele introduced the newest member of the M250 engine family — the M250-C47E. The more powerful version features a dual-channel full-authority digital engine control system, which Fedele said may soon allow for on-condition maintenance. Fedele said the fuel burn and direct operating cost of the new engine are also lower than previous M250 models.
The launch customer for the M250-C47E is MD Helicopters. The company will introduce the engine in the MD 540F helicopter, which will have both commercial and military applications, said Chris Nehls, MD Helicopters vice president, engineering. The MD 540F is a modified version of the MD 530 and the first new helicopter to be launched since Lynn Tilton took over as CEO the company in 2005. First flight with the new engine is expected early next year with first deliveries in 2015, said Nehls. It all depends on when the new engine will achieve FAA certification. Nehls said there may be a few MD 540 helicopters delivered with a previous version of the M250, but they would likely later be upgraded with the C47E. MD will also later introduce the engine into the MD 530 and MD 600, he said.
The U.S. Navy has also officially committed to placing the engine into the unmanned Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout helicopter, which is also used as a developmental platform for the M250-C47E.
The new version of the M250 brings the shaft horsepower rating from 650 to 700, but Fedele said the company has plans for an even more powerful version of the new engine. The maximum power rating has yet to be determined.
In addition to providing more power and Fadec, Rolls-Royce has made it a little easier for M250 customers to find maintenance facilities within the M250 FIRST network with a new app for iOS and Android devices. Full functionality of the app is available without a wireless connection.
More than 31,000 M250 engines have been delivered since Rolls-Royce received the type certificate 50 years ago. During that time, the M250 line of engines has flown about 223 million flight hours. And despite a recent 20-percent increase in production, the M250 production is sold out for 2013.