The GE Aviation manufactured Catalyst engine has completed its first flight on a Beechcraft King Air flying test bed. The engine is the first clean sheet turboprop to enter the general aviation market designed and manufactured in Europe for over 50 years.
The flight lasted for one hour and 40 minutes as the aircraft took off from and landed back at Berlin airport. The Catalyst engine programme was launched in 2015 and since then 16 test engines accumulated more than 2,600 hours of operation in ground tests and has completed four certification tests.
“We are very pleased by this successful first flight and proud of our team of outstanding professionals and specialists from all over Europe,” says Riccardo Procacci, CEO and general manager of GE Aviation business unit Avio Aero and GE Aviation Turboprop Engines. “The Catalyst first flight opens a world of opportunities in the business and general aviation market with our launch customer at Textron Aviation, but also in the defence space for applications like drones and trainers.”
Paul Corkery, general manager of GE Aviation Turboprop Engines adds: “It is the result of huge efforts by our brilliant team to bring this engine out of the test cell and onto the King Air flying test bed. We're very encouraged by preliminary data from the first flight, and we're looking forward to continued flight testing on this revolutionary turboprop engine alongside our launch customer Textron”
“As the first turboprop fully designed, developed and built in Europe in the last half century, the Catalyst engine is an ITAR-free product also available for military applications," says Pierfederico Scarpa, VP marketing and sales of Avio Aero.
The engine is GE's first modern full authority digital engine control (FADEC) controlled turboprop, aimed to service the 850 -1600 SHP range. It says the FADEC is able to deliver a jet like, single lever power and propeller control and reduces pilot workload while providing a greater level of control and responsiveness.
The turboprop is made with 3D printed components. The engine features an industry best 16:1 overall pressure ratio, enabling the engine to achieve as much as 20% lower fuel burn and 10% higher cruise power compared to competitors in the same size class.
The Catalyst supply chain and assembly will continue to be based in the industrial European ecosystem. GE sites involved are GE Aviation Czech, Avio Aero of Italy and Poland, GE Aviation Advanced Technology of Munich in Germany and the GE Engineering Design Center of Warsaw in Poland.