Results are reported for a technology program designed to determine the behavior of gas turbine engines when operating in particle-laden clouds. There are several ways that such clouds may be created, i.e., explosive volcanic eruption, sand storm, military conflict, etc. The response of several different engines, among them the Pratt & Whitney JT3D turbofan, the Pratt & Whitney J57 turbojet, a Pratt & Whitney engine of the JT9 vintage, and an engine of the General Electric CF6 vintage has been determined.
The particular damage mode that will be dominant when an engine experiences a dust cloud depends upon the particular engine (the turbine inlet temperature at which the engine is operating when it encounters the dust cloud), the concentration of foreign material in the cloud, and the constituents of the foreign material (the respective melting temperature of the various constituents). Further, the rate at which engine damage will occur depends upon all of the factors given above and the damage is cumulative with continued exposure.
An important part of the Calspan effort has been to identify environmental warning signs and to determine which of the engine parameters available for monitoring by the flight crew can provide an early indication of impending difficulty. On the basis of current knowledge, if one knows the location of a particle-laden cloud, then that region should be avoided. However, if the cloud location is unknown, which is generally the case, then it is important to know how to recognize when an encounter has occurred and to understand how to safely operate, which is another part of the Calspan effort.