Now on Flying Testbed, GE Catalyst Nears Ground Testing

 - November 23, 2020, 8:20 AM
GE Aviation has installed its new Catalyst turboprop engine on this Beechcraft King Air 350 testbed. The company will start ground trials with the engine testbed in December 2020. (Photo: GE Aviation)

GE Aviation’s clean-sheet Catalyst turboprop engine is expected to begin its ground testing on a flying testbed early next month followed by delivery of the safety-of-flight engine to Textron Aviation before year-end, according to a spokesman for the engine manufacturer. He also told AIN that the engine has already been installed on a Beechcraft King Air 350 that is serving as the flying testbed.

So far, GE Aviation’s Czech Republic facility has manufactured 10 Catalyst test engines, including three of which have been torn down and reassembled as part of its testing program. “We’ve rebuilt three of them already: taken them apart, checked all the parts, make sure everything…looks great, and then put them back together,” the spokesman said.

Combined, the test engines have accumulated nearly 2,000 hours of run time, he added. Textron Aviation’s clean-sheet Denali turboprop single is the launch platform for the engine, which contains a number of 3D-printed parts, and its first flight has been delayed as a result of hold-ups at GE Aviation. Last fall, GE Aviation executives explained at the 2019 NBAA-BACE that newer testing standards and engine preparations for the flying testbed were behind the program’s delays.

Wichita-based Textron Aviation, which will have three flight-test and three ground-test articles for its Denali certification program, continues to decline to put a timeline on the airplane’s development milestones.