GE Aviation selects Prague, Czech Republic as location for turboprop "centre of excellence"

GE Aviation has confirmed it will build its new advanced turboprop (ATP) engine family at a new facility it will build on its site in Prague, in the Czech Republic.

The US-headquartered manufacturer had said it would create the "centre of excellence" in Europe, but not specified the location. However, with it already having an industrial presence in the Czech Republic, that country was always favourite.

The facility will be built on a new site at GE's engineering and production facility in Prague, the former Walter Aircraft Engines business it acquired in 2008.

When it opens in 2020, the operation will be dedicated to the development, testing and manufacture of turboprops in the 1,000-2,000shp (735-1,500kW)-class range, says GE.

At a signing ceremony in Prague on 18 January to confirm the location, GE vice-chairman John Rice described the Czech Republic "an important technological and manufacturing hub for GE with thousands of highly skilled employees supporting our businesses in markets around the world".

He says "this latest investment makes complete sense" for the company and "it will create hundreds of local jobs, strengthen our regional‎ capabilities and add to our global innovation network."

The ATP line-up includes the 1,300shp GE93 engine that will power Textron Aviation’s in-development turboprop-single.

The US parent company of airframers Cessna and Beechcraft confirmed the existence of the new aircraft in July 2015 and selected its powerplant the following November. The programme is expected to be formally launched at July's AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Preliminary details released by Textron reveal the aircraft will seat-up to 12 passengers and crew and will have a range of more than 1,500nm (2,775km) and a top speed of more than 280kt.

The GE93 will feature electronic engine and propeller controls, a class-leading 16:1 pressure ratio, and will burn 20% less fuel than current-generation models, says GE.

The US company entered the small turboprop market in 2008 following its acquisition of Walter, the Czech developer of the M601 engine, which is the predecessor of the current H-series powerplants.

GE says while the new facility is being constructed, initial work on the ATP family will be carried out at its facilities in Europe – including Prague and Avio Aero in Italy. Engine testing is scheduled to begin in 2018.

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