TEI taking a Giant LEAP towards the Future, Aligning Progressive Targets with Goals of the Defense Industry
In this in-depth Defence Turkey interview took place during Istanbul Air Show, TEI General Manager, Prof. Dr. Mr. Mahmut Faruk Akşit discusses factors that have given TEI a notably competitive edge: high quality production, on-time delivery and competitive price criteria, advanced manufacturing technologies and investments in staff and facilities. Past, present and future projects are discussed in depth, T700 Engines for the TUHP project, Operative UAV Engines, TS1400 turboshaft engine; with a constant eye on the primary target of developing the indigenous aircraft engine for Turkey.
Defence Turkey: Dear Mr. Mahmut Faruk Akşit, first of all we would like to thank you for this interview. As TEI, how has the year 2016 been for you? Could you briefly assess this year for us?
We are about to complete 2016 as a year in which our company experienced important developments and achievements. One of the most significant developments we witnessed was the launch of the Turkish Utility Helicopter Project. We will be manufacturing the T700 Engines within the scope of this project and thus leaving the title of just the ‘parts and module supplier’, we will be moving onto the status of the engine manufacturer. For us, this means getting one step closer to our vision of “being globally competitive power systems OEM.”
Another important development we experienced in 2016 was our achievement in manufacturing the first blisk parts of the LEAP engine and the launch of our Advanced Manufacturing Technologies Facility where we will be conducting mass production of these parts. With this project, TEI has become the biggest engine part supplier of LEAP engines in the world. Moreover, I would like to point out that the Advanced Technology Manufacturing Facility that was inaugurated in September, with the participation of our National Defense Minister Dear Mr. Fikri Işık and our Minister of Culture and Tourism Mr. Nabi Avcı, is one of the only two facilities in the world in respect to the specialties it features and regarding the part production that will be conducted inside the facility.
The other crucial development was TEI to become one of the top 5 companies among 3672 NADCAP-accredited companies worldwide with 9 different special processes accreditations including the accreditation of TEI Material Testing & Research Laboratory which was obtained in May 2016. The NADCAP accreditation is recognized by all aerospace authorities and operated by the PRI (Performance Review Institute). This proves that TEI has become a benchmark for the industry in application and control of special processes and NDT methods. (TEI was previously considered as one of the top ten companies among the NADCAP accredited 3672 companies with its 8 different process groups).
On this opportunity, I would like to thank everyone again for their achievements to this end.
Defence Turkey: Could you please tell us your budgeted year-end growth target for 2016 and your projections for 2017?
Last year we celebrated the 30th Anniversary of our company and determined our long-term goals by updating our mission to be in line with the requirements of our country. One of the targets we have identified is to grow the size of TEI by threefold by 2025. In parallel with this goal, we will end 2016 with a $ 14 million increase in our manufacturing sales and I predict that this growth will continue in 2017.
Defence Turkey: Based on the data of 2015, you achieved exports of over $ 220 million in 2015. Within this context, what is the share of exports within your total turnover? What is your sustainable growth target regarding foreign sales for the upcoming period?
Taking our total turnover of 2015 into consideration, our export figures have a share of 76%. We determined our target in line with the Defense and Aerospace Sector’s export target for the year 2023 which is $ 25 billion. As of today, the long term contracts that we have signed, valued at $ 3 billion, are proof of our confident progress towards our goals as well.
Defence Turkey: Mr. Akşit, is the acquisition of a foreign company among your growth strategies as well? What are your comments on this subject?
TEI’s vision is to become a globally competitive power systems OEM. TEI is a company with top level competencies and currently has a part at the global market. The competencies we have should be enriched in order to convert our company into a “global OEM”. Various resources can be utilized towards achieving this enrichment, and of the options may be acquisition. Acquisition means the transfer of technical competency, as well as the market share of the company in question, to the TEI’s lane. In addition to acquiring companies, business models for developing indigenous products through building consortiums with other companies can be taken into account. The location of the company may also offer TEI new opportunities, so we could claim that foreign companies, when the convenient circumstances occur, are on TEI’s radar. One of our major partners TAI had similar expansions.
Defence Turkey: Mr. Akşit, TEI recently accomplished the official opening of the Advanced Manufacturing Technologies Facility. An investment of around $ 110 million is being made to this facility including manufacturing equipment. What would you like to say about the capabilities and added value that this technology center will be contributing to our country in the years ahead?
The LEAP engine, developed by the General Electric Company, has a market share of 79% within the category of engines for the new generation Boeing 737, A320 and similar single-aisle aircrafts. The Advanced Manufacturing Technologies Facility is one of two facilities in the world that is capable of manufacturing compressor blisk parts for this engine. We launched the production at our facility, but our investments in machinery/work stations continue. This new facility will be operating in 100% in 2019 with a total 100 machinery/work stations. It will be creating an additional employment of 300 staff. As of today, of the orders received valued at $ 3 billion, we are aiming to manufacture and export $ 2 billion of the order only from this new facility.
This facility, which will be TEI’s first digital intelligent factory, will be featuring production planning based on real time data, process optimization, real time parts and parts motion monitoring system, intelligent systems based on warnings and prevention mechanisms, preventive maintenance depending on real machinery data and paperless manufacturing as well.
Defence Turkey: Taking a look at the programs conducted within our country, you are taking part as the licensed engine manufacturer within the scope of the Turkish Utility Helicopter Program. Which responsibilities will you have on the production of the T700-TEI-701D engine? Could you please elaborate the activities being conducted and the program schedule?
As TEI, within the scope of the Turkish General Utility Helicopter Program (TUHP) we will be manufacturing 236 “T700-TEI-701D” engines (218 of which are to be installed and 18 engines to be used as spare engines) required for the 109 “T70 Black Hawk Helicopters” to be built by the main contractor TAI, under General Electric license for the next decade. As you know, the engines manufactured by TEI will be powering the T70 helicopters that will enter into the inventory of 6 different end-users namely the Land Forces Command, Air Forces Command, Special Forces Command, Gendarmerie General Command, Turkish National Police and the General Directorate of Forestry.
Production of more than 60% of the modules and parts, the complete engine assembly, final tests, configuration management and logistical support services will be accomplished by TEI for the engines to be delivered to TAI. Additionally, the hot section parts such as the combustion chamber with high-replacement rates throughout the life cycle of the engine will be manufactured by TEI for the first time in Turkey.
Within after sales support, TEI will have the right to conduct Depot Level Maintenance of the T700 engine family within the inventory of the Turkish end users with domestically manufactured parts and will also have the right to perform Depot Level Maintenance for a wider geography identified outside of Turkey.
Moreover, as TEI, we will be starting to deliver the first engines within 27 months (T0+27 months) after the commencement of the program schedule, which was June 15, 2016. TEI’s activities within the scope of the TUHP will continue during the minimum 30-year lifetime of the T70 helicopter to be delivered last.
Defence Turkey: How are the contract negotiations proceeding within the framework of the development of the “TS1400” turboshaft engine which will power the Turkish Indigenous Helicopter? Could you inform us on the recent status of the negotiations?
For the ‘TS1400’ turboshaft engine, our contract negotiations within the scope of the ‘Turboshaft Engine Development Project’ are continuing intensely with the Sub-Systems Department of the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM). As part of this project, we are aiming to develop an indigenous and national 1400hsp engine with the type certificate which could be integrated into the Indigenous Helicopter. We are building the infrastructures for the gas turbine engine design, development and testing as well. To this end, we are simultaneously negotiating the administrative and technical issues with our Undersecretariat and forming the contract in accordance with the requirements of the existing and planned platform projects. In line with the objectives and requirements, various alternatives are emerging on the agenda; we are conducting our activities in a rapid fashion in order to find out the best solution through evaluating the pros and cons of each option. We aim to complete the contract negotiations and sign the contracts within the next few months and officially launch the project immediately after the signatures. As TEI, we have already started the activities for the indigenous engine design quite prior to the signing of the contract with the support of our executive board. As a matter of fact, the initial design cycle has already been accomplished. With the signing of the contract, the manufacturing and testing infrastructures will be completed rapidly and we will be able to move onto the prototype phase.
Defence Turkey: Regarding the development and production of the Indigenous Aircraft engine, our Minister of National Defense Mr. Fikri Işık made a brief declaration on the development of an indigenous aircraft engine by Turkey within 5 years, at the opening ceremony of the Advanced Manufacturing Technologies Facility. As TEI, what type of a preliminary preparation do you have in line with a possible decision of the Defense Industry Executive Committee within this scope?
The gas turbine engine design and development infrastructures that will be developed as part of the Indigenous Turboshaft Engine Project will be used to a large extent by the Indigenous Aircraft engine which is a gas turbine engine as well. Therefore, for a potential aircraft engine project, the technologies and the design, development and test activities of engine modules that need to be developed in addition to the turboshaft engine are being planned. Following a probable Executive Committee Decision, by making the required technological additions to the capabilities we acquired, within the scope of the Turbo-shaft Engine Development Project, we will be able to develop the first prototype of our indigenous aircraft engine within the period mentioned by our Dear Minister of National Defense.
Defence Turkey: Dear Mr. Akşit, studies were launched previously for the development of the domestic UAV engine within the scope of the Operative UAV program. Could you please inform us on the current status of the activities being conducted to this end?
In order to fulfill the short and medium term requirements of the domestic Operative UAVs, the activities for the development of an Operative UAV Engine have been continuing since 2013, within the scope of the project executed under the leadership of the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries. The development of this new engine which will completely abolish our critical foreign dependency also contains many novelties. The capabilities in many sub-categories are being developed in our country within the framework of this project. As part of this project - in which the first engine certification process of our country is being experienced – TEI, and as the certification authority the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, achieved important acquisitions in respect to the maturing of the engine certification processes.
At times we had to transfer the resources of this project to the other UAV engine development projects that we have been conducting due to the critical priorities. Due to the technical specification changes appearing on the agenda in the first year of the project, the expansion of the project scope in time, the engine certification process being new topic to both TEI and SSM and the priorities which needed to be directed towards other UAV engine projects, we endured an undesired delay. Actually the design of the fully indigenous engine has been completed. I can give the good news that we are currently at the prototype production stage and about to initiate the engine tests. Of course, the following phases of the project will be tough as well. We aim to accomplish the qualification and certification of the engine within the next 2 years. We named the 170 hp engine that we developed as “PD170”. We rely on the fact that PD170 will be providing important technical advantages compared to the currently used modified engine and we will be offering the facility to advance the performance parameters such as the payload capacity, climbing speed, and altitude performance and endurance period of the existing indigenous UAV platforms.
Defence Turkey: Could you inform us about the other UAV engine projects you have mentioned?
With the infrastructure that we established and the capabilities we developed, we became the preferred address in the country regarding the requirements emerging within the scope of UAV engines. We are working on 4 different piston engines in various powers and with different technical specialties for different platforms. Some of them have been put to usage and some are under testing phase. As you know, besides the piston engines, we have engine development studies in mini turbojet and mini turboprop categories which may become solutions for specific requests. With the help of the capabilities we acquired within the scope of the UAV engines, we easily claim that all types of UAV engines can be developed within the facilities of the TEI through national resources for our indigenous platforms as the requests arise.
Defence Turkey: You applied for the EASA Part 145 Maintenance Approval as part of the ML3 maintenance of the Front Bearing Structure module of the TP400-D6 engine within 2015. Could you inform us on the latest developments regarding this issue and on the activities to be conducted after the approval of the application?
As you also stated, we completed the required application for the EASA Part 145 Maintenance Approval and an auditor was assigned by the EASA in February 2016. Then, as TEI, we submitted the MOE (Maintenance Organization Exposition) and related documents to the EASA. The revisions requested by the EASA were made on the documents in June. Currently we are expecting EASA to notify us on the audit date. When we receive the Part 145 approval, the maintenance of the Front Bearing Support module of all of the global TP400 engine users will be conducted at TEI. As you know, the design and manufacturing responsibilities of the subject module belonged to TEI as well.
Defence Turkey: Your Company will be in charge of the production of the Blisk parts that are amongst the crucial components of the new generation LEAP engines. To this end, what kind of a vision are you putting forth for becoming the biggest and most competitive LEAP engine supplier in the world? What are the capabilities that make you stand out amongst your rivals?
As you know, TEI is a company that has a place in the global market regarding aircraft engine parts manufacturing and has superior level competencies. In addition to the high quality production, on-time delivery and competitive price criteria, that we have and that are regarded as the crucial factors by our international customers, we attach significance to advanced manufacturing technologies and we invest both in our staff and in our facilities. These factors make us notable amongst our competitors.
Within such a framework, as I mentioned earlier, the Advanced Manufacturing Technologies Facility that has been inaugurated with the participation of our Minister of National Defense in September, is as of today the only facility in the world that is capable of manufacturing of the blisk parts for LEAP engines besides GE. With the investment of over $ 110 million that we are making, this facility will reach 100% capacity in 2019. This is a clear indicator of the importance that we attach to this project.
Defence Turkey: Could you inform us on the investments, activities and your R&D structuring in respect to the utilization of the additive manufacturing technologies in the products and in the ongoing programs?
We initiated our activities towards additive manufacturing technologies in 2013. With the help of the projects conducted with the support of our Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, we are training our competent staff by founding a comprehensive know-how on additive manufacturing processes and related test activities. Through training and experimental activities, the competency of our engineers in additive manufacturing area is accretive. We aim to become an additive manufacturing research, development and application center in aviation and aerospace area in the future.
Regarding this area, we gained the required infrastructure for this technology almost at the same time as the other major engine manufacturers. Within the scope of the Yakut project, funded by the SSM, we successfully manufactured the combustion chamber of TEI’s Indigenous Turbojet engine-TJ90 which is originally composed of 9 sub-parts, by additive manufacturing process as a single part, meeting all mechanic and metallurgical requirements. Presently the material tests are being conducted as part of the project.The results are encouraging and they seem to exceed our expectations. In the next stage, we aim to perform the engine level tests of this part and start to utilize it in the engine.
The additive manufacturing technology removes the restraints of manufacturability over the design activities and with the help of the freedom of design it provides, it enables the design and production of lighter and more complex geometrical parts with longer life cycles. Moreover, with this technology, we are capable of manufacturing parts without requiring fixtures/tools in a relatively shorter period than the traditional manufacturing methods. In this way, the rapid production and testing of the various design alternatives created during the design process and looping feedback into the design process become possible.
To this end, we plan efficient utilization of the additive manufacturing technology during the manufacturing of the first engine prototype of the indigenous Turboshaft Engine Project. In accordance with this target, we will be investing in new machine with dimensions and capabilities allowing the production of the turboshaft engine parts. Besides, in addition to the material we currently work on, we will be conducting required studies for the other nickel based powder material such as Inconel 718, Inconel 713LC and Hastelloy X and also the development of additive manufacturing process parameters for these material. .
Defence Turkey: Dear Mr. Akşit, where does TEI place itself within the next ten-year period?
Our vision is to be a globally competitive power systems OEM. As we proceed in line with this vision, we determined progressive targets for ourselves. In parallel with the goals of our defense industry, developing the indigenous engine is our primary target. In this respect, we attach great importance to national projects. Through the products that we develop, we will be the one in domestic market and we will become a competitive company in the global market.