GE Turboprop Engine Steps Into Limelight

GE will begin certification testing on its up-to-800-shaft-horsepower H80 turboprop engine by year end. The company has also signed a launch customer — the Thrush 510 crop duster will be the first to fly with H80 power. GE expects the engine to be certified by mid 2010, with the Thrush 510 receiving FAA certification around the same time. The H80 is a derivative of the Czech-designed Walter M601 series, but modified with what GE calls "modern 3D aerodynamic design techniques and advanced materials." The result is greater power, more fuel efficiency and increased temperature margins. The H80 is expected to have a service life of 3,600 hours and 6,600 cycles between overhauls. GE acquired assets of Walter Engines last summer, and launched a new business, GE Aviation Czech s.r.o. with a new 135,000-square-foot factory with 400 employees in Prague. Walter Engines had built more than 37,000 engines, and the M601 series has logged more than 17 million hours since its introduction in 1975. The Thrush 510 carries 510 gallons of material and has a maximum gross weight of 10,500 pounds. It is expected to be operated widely in Kazakhstan, the world's seventh largest producer of grains.