With five development engines assembled and more than 1,600 hours of combined operation between engine test hours, GE Aviation’s new Catalyst turboprop engine is progressing toward a flying testbed for the launch application, the Textron Aviation Denali. However, the engine maker won’t deliver the first Denali flight-test engine to Textron Aviation (Booth C9343, Static SD503 and SD503A) until sometime in 2020, GE officials confirmed on the eve of NBAA-BACE.
Textron, which plans to use the Catalyst on its clean-sheet Cessna Denali turboprop single, had earlier planned to fly its first test aircraft by year-end. “Given the delay in the engine delivery, we are not putting a timeline on first flight of the Denali,” the Wichita airframer said. “Textron Aviation is pleased with the performance of the engine, and Catalyst development testing has met or exceeded the program requirements. Engine design and performance has been proven through extensive component and development testing.”
Catalyst testing milestones include more than 1,000 engine cycles with hot starts and cold starts in temperatures between -65 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit. It also reached FL410 in an altitude chamber, and the first engine certification test—PT loss of load—was completed earlier this month. Two component certification tests have also been completed: GGT overspeed and HPC overspeed.
The Denali iron bird ground-test article continues to test Fadec and engine connectivity, avionics functionality, and aircraft handling characteristics. GE said the iron bird has completed 300 hours of testing.
In terms of the Denali’s airframe, Textron said it is nearing wingmate of the prototype aircraft. All told, the company has three flight test and three ground test articles, the latter of which will be used for airframe static and fatigue tests, as well as cabin interior development and testing.
Along with the Catalyst engine, the Denali will be equipped with Garmin G3000 touchscreen avionics, including three, 14-inch diagonal, wide-screen LCDs, synthetic vision, ADS-B In/Out and weather avoidance radar.
With an expected range of 1,600 nm, a maximum cruise speed of 285 knots, and a full fuel payload of 1,100 pounds, the airplane is configurable for both passenger and cargo missions with its flat floor.
It includes a 53-by-59-inch rear cargo door, as well as executive features such as a digital pressurization system that maintains a 6,130-foot cabin to 31,000 feet and an optional externally serviceable belted lavatory with pocket door. Large passenger windows, interior LED lighting, and options for a refreshment cabinet and an in-flight-accessible baggage compartment round out the Denali’s features.
Denali offers six individual reclining seats, club-configuration tables, and a refreshment unit in executive configuration, and nine forward-facing seats in a high-density commuter configuration.
“It’s an airplane that we think can have a big impact on the marketplace and we continue to move forward with that,” Textron senior v-p of sales and marketing Rob Scholl told AIN.