GE has begun certification testing on its 800 shp H80 turboprop engine, with the first production engines to go into the Thrush 510 crop-duster. GE expects the H80 to be certified by the middle of the year, around the same time as Thrush's new model.
An outgrowth of the 600 shp Czech-designed Walter M601 engine, the H80 is aimed at the light turboprop market that has for decades been dominated by Pratt & Whitney with its iconic PT6. With hopes of getting its foot in the door, GE acquired Walter last year and has continued to work on that vision, building a new 135,000-square-foot factory in Prague and putting extensive development work into the derivative H80.
Based on its ongoing testing of the H80, that investment seems to have paid off, states GE, which says that it has improved the engine through the use of the latest "design techniques and advanced materials." At 800 shp, the H80 is not only more powerful than the M601, but it also has better temperature margins and maintenance intervals. The new engine is expected to have a service life of 3,600 hours with 6,600 cycles between overhauls.