GE reached a new milestone in its H80 turboprop program when the powerplant earned approval from European authorities. The engine has been fitted to a couple of airplanes, neither of which is certified yet. The Thrush 510G agricultural airplane — is “crop duster” politically incorrect these days? — is on track for certification now by early 2012.
The Aircraft Industries L410 twin turboprop began flying with the H80 engines since last month. The company expects certification for the 10-seater by later next year.
The H80 is one of a few projects by GE designed to move it into new markets. The company is working with Honda on a light jet engine, with the HondaJet as its launch customer. In a like fashion, the H80 will compete with a couple of existing turboprop-family products, the Pratt & Whitney PT-6 and the Honeywell TPE-331, both of which are in production and installed in a large number of new and retrofit applications.
The H80 is based on an existing engine, the Walter M601, a Czech engine that has been in production for decades. The GE design improves upon the Walter, according to GE, with the newly certificated model achieving the trifecta of being more powerful, more fuel efficient and more durable, a feat achieved through the use of improved materials, design tools and modeling techniques.
GE will manufacture the 800-shp H80 engine at its new facility in Prague, Czech Republic.