GE Aviation completed the first test run of its new Advanced Turboprop engine, a “clean sheet” design that the developer said incorporates more 3D-printed components than any production engine in aviation history, 35% of the turboprop's parts. More specifically, GE noted that 855 conventionally manufactured parts had been reconceived as 12 additive-manufactured parts, including sumps, bearing housings, frames, exhaust case, combustor liner, heat exchangers and stationary flow-path components.
In development since 2015, GE Aviation reported it has committed more than $400 million to the engine program. The R&D program and testing have been carried out at GE Aviation’s operation in Prague, Czech Republic, where manufacturing of the new engines will be centered.
The 1,240 SHP-rated Advanced Turboprop (ATP) engine is aimed at business and general (BGA) aircraft in the 1,000-1,600 SHP range. The developer claims its design introduces 79 new technologies in turboprop design. Additive manufacturing of parts reduced the new engine’s weight by 5% and contributes to a 1% improvement in specific fuel consumption (SFC), GE noted.
The Advanced Turboprop engine features 16:1 overall pressure ratio (an “industry best,” according to GE) that promotes up to 20% lower fuel burn and 10% higher cruise power compared to competing engines. At 4,000 hours, it will record 33% more time between overhaul than its leading competitor, it added.
The Advanced Turboprop engine will begin certification testing in 2018. It has been selected by Textron Aviation as the power source for its new Cessna Denali, a single-engine aircraft that is expected to take flight for the first time in late 2018.
According to GE, by the time the Denali enters into commercial service, its ATP engine will have completed more than 2,000 hours of testing.
“The continued testing will generate valuable data from the engine and validate the aerodynamics, mechanics, and aerothermal systems,” stated Paul Corkery, general manager for GE Aviation Turboprops. “With the engine run and most of the individual component testing completed, early indications show that we will meet or exceed all the performance numbers we have quoted for the engine.”