General Electric could be set for a return to the civil turboprop sector. The company's general manager for CF34 project development, Chuck Nugent, says that the sector is a small, yet "growing" area of the industry and that a new engine for this market is currently being studied.

Although GE developed in the 1980s the CT7 engine that powered the Saab 340 and CASA CN-235, it is the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW120 that established itself as the mainstay of the turboprop sector. Both in-production turboprop families, the ATR 42 / 72 and Bombardier Q Series, are powered by it.

However, there is an opening for a new-generation engine, with ATR's senior vice-president commercial John Moore saying that the company continues to assess the market for a larger turboprop in the 90-seat range, but "there is no engine on the market right now that satisfies our requirement".

As GE assesses what, if any, engine product development the turboprop market warrants, Nugent says GE continues to believe that it can offer a product that matches or betters the performance of a geared turbofan but "without the complexity of adding a gear system".

Source: Flight International