Evidence that high oil prices are spawning a resurgence of the turboprop was reinforced by yesterday’s announcement from GE that its new subsidiary, Walter Engines is launching an upgrade to its M601E/F engines.

The new derivative - M601H-80 - has been designed for the utility, agriculture and retrofit aircraft segments and is offered to customers at AirVenture.

GE Aviation's Brad Mottier, VP and GM of business and general aviation, says that the new engine type has been researched by engineers from GE (including some from the GE Honda team) and Walter over the past year and this has resulted in considerable improvements including high altitude performance (up to around FL250), SFC and longer TBO.

 GE Walter engine

“These advanced technologies will improve fuel efficiency by 7% compared to the existing M601F engine and also offer increased temperature margin (ISA+21 compared to ISA+9) to improve hot day take-off and high altitude cruise.” says Mottier

He says  the new version will be ideal for retrofitting aircraft such as the Beech C90 King Air as well as a wide variety of agricultural airframes and crop dusters as well as some of the smaller versions of Cessna’s Caravan. 

“Our new engine is a direct competitor for many versions of Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PT6 so we have high hopes of selling lots of units.  News of the new engine generated a considerable amount of pre-launch interest at Farnborough airshow this year when we shared the details with some military and commercial OEMs, including those who were interested in powering UAVs and military trainers.

“We aim to have the first engine to test early in 2009, with EASA certification following towards the end of the year.”
The Czech Republic based Walter’s M601A was originally designed in 1975 and subsequent versions have appeared on a range of aircraft including the LET L-410 and L-420 un-pressurised commuter airliners. The engine family has accumulated a total of more than 16 million hours on 30 applications.

Source: Flight International