GE Aviation will provide its GE Catalyst™ engine to XTI Aircraft Co. as the core of the hybrid-electric propulsion system for its vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) aircraft, the TriFan 600. The TriFan 600 is a six-seat fixed-wing aircraft powered by three ducted fans — two pivoting on the wing and one in the aft fuselage.
The aircraft is promoted as having the speed, range, and comfort of a business jet, with the takeoff and landing capability of a helicopter. XTI recently completed initial hover tests of the TriFan 600 prototype, testing its autonomous functions and ground control systems, including electric motors, the battery system, ducts, propellers, flight controls, electrical systems, and instrumentation. Customers have placed 80 orders to date for the TriFan 600.
The Catalyst is a turboprop engine now under development to power the Cessna Denali, rated for 850 to 1,600 hp and projected to achieve 20% better efficiency than current turboprop engines via a 16:1 overall pressure ratio, variable stator vanes, cooled turbine blades, 3D printed parts and full authority digital engine control (FADEC). It’s slated for EPA certification in 2020.
GE Aviation and XTI agreed to cooperate to define a series hybrid architecture that will meet the TriFan performance requirements.
“XTI has been seeking out the best hybrid propulsion solution for the TriFan 600 and we believe the Catalyst is the right choice,” stated Paul Corkery, general manager for GE Aviation Turboprops.
“GE believes that parallel and series hybrid propulsion systems, those that include a turbine gas generator to take advantage of the energy density of jet fuel, will lead to much more capable aircraft for both traditional and emerging markets for many years to come,” Corkery continued. “The Catalyst is a new, clean-sheet design that will greatly reduce fuel consumption, enabling longer in-flight missions and increased payload compared to other alternatives in this class.”
The TriFan 600 will have the speed, range and comfort of a business jet and the ability to take off and land vertically, like a helicopter. Using three ducted fans, the TriFan 600 lifts off vertically. Its two wing fans then rotate forward for a seamless transition to cruise speed and its initial climb. It will reach 30,000 feet and cruise to the destination as a highly efficient business aircraft. The TriFan 600 will incorporate advanced safety features, including autopilot and computerized controls for takeoff and landing.