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GE Aviation Execs Explain Catalyst Delay

 - October 21, 2019, 6:39 PM
Textron Aviation's Cessna Denali is the launch airplane for GE Aviation's Catalyst engine. (Photo: Textron Aviation)

A combination of newer turboprop testing standards and engine preparations required for its flying testbed are driving a delay in the initial delivery of GE Aviation's new Catalyst turboprop to Textron Aviation for the Cessna Denali, said Brad Mottier, v-p and general manager of business, general aviation, and integrated systems for GE Aviation. 

Textron Aviation on Monday announced the delay in the turboprop single’s first flight to sometime next year. Both Textron Aviation and GE Aviation had anticipated first flight of the Denali later this year.

The primary holdup has been eight test certification requirements for turboprop engines put in place by the FAA over the past 10 years. Among those more stringent requirements are ones that center around engine icing, added GE Aviation general manager of turboprops Paul Corkery.

“Some of the test facilities, not just ours but external [ones], took a lot longer to get through the test cycles than what we anticipated,” Mottier added.

A King Air 350 that will serve as the Catalyst flying testbed is being outfitted for the engine, although that has brought its own set of challenges, including a new structure to affix it to the airplane’s wing. “And this new engine produces more power than the PT6 that is on the other side,” Mottier explained. “That’s taking longer than we anticipated.”

Once the Catalyst has been fitted to the King Air, trialing with the flying testbed will begin in Europe. “We are assembling the engine and anticipate delivering the engine later this year for flight testing,” he said. Catalyst will eventually have European Union Aviation Safety Agency and FAA certifications.