GE Aviation completed the first test run of the new Advanced Turboprop engine in Prague on 22 December, crossing a key milestone in the company’s long-term strategy to compete in a market long dominated by Pratt & Whitney Canada.
The first ground test keeps the 1,240shp Advanced Turboprop on track to support Textron Aviation’s plan to begin in late 2018 flight tests of the Cessna Denali, a new single-engined turboprop aimed at the Pilatus PC-12 and Daher TBM900.
"With the engine run and most of the individual component testing completed, early indications show that we will meet or exceed all the performance numbers we have quoted for the engine," says Paul Corkery, general manager for GE Aviation Turboprops.
GE unveiled the Advanced Turboprop engine in October 2015, revealing a configuration packed with new technologies for the turboprop, including cooled turbine blades and full authority digital engine control (FADEC). About 35% of the parts made in the Advanced Turboprop are manufactured with 3D printers.
Those advances are meant to counter P&WC’s long domination of the 1,200shp-1,600shp turboprop engine segment with the PT6 engine, which was introduced in 1964 on the Beechcraft Queen Air.
“We're developing a real catalyst for the BGA [Business and General Aviation] market and we're executing on plan. The integration of proven technologies has expedited the design, development and certification cycle of the engine," says Brad Mottier, vice-president and general manager of BGA and Integrated Systems for GE.
The Advanced Turboprop engine is designed and manufactured by GE’s growing business holdings in Europe. Avio Aero engineers in Italy and GE engineers in the USA designed the engine. It is being tested in the Czech Republic at facilities owned by the former Walter Aircraft Engines, which GE acquired in 2008.