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NBAA: GE nears milestones on $1.5bn bet on business aircraft

GE Aviation’s $1.5 billion investment in developing new engines for the business and general aviation market is close to reaching key milestones in projects ranging from small turboprops to supersonic jets.

The advanced turboprop (ATP) programme selected for Textron Aviation’s Cessna Denali remains on track to deliver the first test engine to GE’s turboprop centre of excellence in Prague by the end of the year, says Brad Mottier, GE’s vice-president and general manager for business and general aviation.

“Eight-five percent of the parts are already there,” Mottier says.

Aiming to challenge a market dominated for decades by the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6, GE packed the ATP with new technology for the general aviation market, including cooled turbine blades, variable stator valves and structures composed of about 25% additively manufactured materials.

Meanwhile, GE continues to support flight testing of the 16,000lb-thrust Passport engine for the Bombardier Global 7000 business jet. An investigation traced an in-flight shutdown on 15 August to a mis-assembled part, Mottier says. A fleet-wide inspection revealed it was a one-off error, he adds.

GE is also following through on a commitment signed earlier this year with Aerion to develop a concept for a supersonic engine. The design has to accommodate requirements for subsonic speed, supersonic speed and noise emissions “reasonably well”, Mottier says.

“We believe there is a configuration” that will meet the requirements, he says. “We just have to get down to that configuration.”

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