TiN Coating Trialed to Keep British Lynx Helicopters Airborne in the Sandbox
A trial programme run by Britain’s Defence Logistic Organisation’s Helicopter Engines Integrated Project Team (HEIPT) is trying to reduce sand erosion to the Lynx helicopter Gem engine Low Pressure (LP) compressor blades. Iraq’s and Afghanistan’s environments cause significant erosion, forcing replacement with new blades, extra overhaul costs and lower availability stats. Attaching sand filters to the engines has helped, but not solved the problem.
The titanium nitride coating comprises both hard layers for surface protection and soft layers that have elastic properties to encourage particles to bounce off without penetrating; it also provides limited protection against Foreign Object Damage. The coating has an impressive provenance acquired during use on Russian helicopter engines, and in further separate testing in the United States, which uses it on the US Marines’ CH-46E Sea Knights. The test project follows extensive research into the effects of sand erosion undertaken in conjunction with engine designer Rolls Royce, and includes experts from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) who will advise and independently assess all aspects of the project. If the trial goes well and the new coating performs as well as expected, MoD will consider whether to roll it out to the rest of the Lynx fleet. See full release for further information and statistics.