GE Aviation rolled out the official name for its Advanced Turboprop (ATP) engine, dubbing the new 900- to 1,700-shp family the Catalyst. Speaking to reporters in Prague today, Brad Mottier, v-p and general manager of GE Aviation's Business and General Aviation & Integrated Systems division, said the new name signifies the family is “a catalyst for change [and] for the competition,…for new airframe designs,...for new maintenance,...for new operations,...for better pilot experience, [and] for better service.”
Stressing the engine was not just intended to provide a means to go faster or be more fuel efficient, Mottier said it is designed to change the pilot experience to that of more a “jet like” environment. This includes a simplified cockpit, thanks to the dual-channel Fadec digital capabilities. Calling the engine a digital design from birth, he added the Catalyst family also will pull down from GE’s commercial family the “digital twin” concept, which moves toward on-condition maintenance capabilities, with the ability to track exact flying conditions, from weather and flying environment to how the engine is flown on every flight. GE Aviation’s long-term goal is to be able to eliminate service bulletins and unnecessary inspections by knowing the specific operating conditions of each Catalyst engine.
“We believe it’s a new standard. We’re already working on additional applications and additional engines and engine models,” he said.
The formal naming of the Catalyst comes as GE Aviation has moved into the testing phase, completing first run for the first model—a 1,300-shp variant for the Cessna Denali—in December. The engine had since accrued close to 40 hours of testing at GE’s test cell, before moving to a new test cell as part of a collaboration with a Czech Technical University team (CVUT) in Prague. Tests are expected to restart on Monday under the partnership with CVUT, which will be testing that engine over the next several years for health-engine monitoring.
The next engine—referred to as number 5—is in assembly, being outfitted with instrumentation and is anticipated to be ready to for testing in a couple of months. That engine, to be used for altitude testing, is slated to head to Canada this summer for trials. Meanwhile, three engines will go to Cessna beginning later this year in preparation for the Denali's planned maiden flight in first-quarter 2019.
With a 16:1 pressure ratio, the Catalyst will provide up to 20 percent lower fuel burn and 10 percent higher cruise power, compared with competitors. The engine is designed with two stages of variable stator vanes and cooled high-pressure turbine blades. GE is incorporating additive manufacturing (3D printing) with a dozen key parts that will lower the parts count by 855, reduce weight by 10 percent, and help provide a 1 percent improvement in specific fuel consumption.