Czech Republic-based Aircraft Industries has inked a five-year engine supply contract with General Electric covering M601 engines and the H80 successor model for the company's Let 410 programme.
The airframer, formerly known as Let Kunovice, plans to produce at least 10 of the twin-engined 19-seat commuter aircraft per year and support the existing fleet with both the original M601 powerplant as well as the updated H80 engine, which is currently being tested for certification.
Aircraft Industries plans to certify the H80-powered variant of its current L410-UVP-E20 (L420) model in mid-2012. Once introduced, it should also become possible to retrofit H80 engines to existing aircraft.
Of the approximately 1,100 aircraft produced since 1969, around 450 are in service today, mainly in Russia, Africa and South America. The latest L410 was delivered to Djibouti's air force in January 2011.
GE took over Walter Engines, the original M601 manufacturer, in 2007. The company promises "significantly advanced hot-day takeoff performance and high-altitude cruise speeds" as well as greater longevity thanks to three-dimensional aerofoils and better materials in the H80 version.
Approximately 1,600 M601 engines are in service today.