GE is close to having its 800-shp H80 turboprop flying on certified aircraft, thus throwing the gauntlet to the ubiquitous Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) PT6A engine. The first H80-equipped Ayres Thrush 510G cropduster was to be delivered in June. Smyrna Air Center is flight-testing an H80-powered King Air C90, aiming for STC in the third quarter of 2012.
Next year, entry into service of the Let 410 19-seater is planned after it is certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency. The Technoavia Rysachok light utility/training twin is to receive certification late in the same year, from the Russian authorities.
Compared to competing engines like the PT6, the H80 has lower direct ownership costs, GE claims. The absence of fuel nozzles mean there is no need for nozzle inspection, nor is there need for hot-section inspection.
Several other versions of the H80 are being studied. Shaft horsepower ratings would range from below 600 to over 1,000. “We are currently talking to a potential launch customer for one variant,” Paul Theofan, president and managing executive of GE Aviation’s business and general aviation turboprops, told AIN.
This year, GE will produce 50 to 70 copies of the H80, mainly for the Thrush 510G. Next year, production is to increase to 125. EASA certified the H80 late last year and U.S. authorities followed suit in March this year.
“Although others have made efforts to launch similar products, none have come close to the PT6,” a P&WC spokesperson told AIN. She claimed the PT6A has 10 times more flight hours than its closest competitors. In addition, its in-flight shutdown rate is 10 times better than the industry standard, she said.
Just as GE, P&WC is targeting re-engining opportunities. The “converter enhancement program” allows modifiers or converters to install new engines on any type of aircraft. For example, the engine upgrade package provided by Blackhawk Modifications for the Cessna Caravan earned U.S. certification last year. The conversion includes a replacement of the 675-shp PT6A-114A with a factory-new 850-shp PT6A-42A.