Electric’s long-term plan to develop the H80 turboprop into a challenger to the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 has taken another step forward with the first flight of an H80-powered L410 commuter aircraft.
The 40-minute flight of the Aircraft Industries L410-UVP-E20 took place in Kunovice in the Czech Republic on Nov. 16. Certification for the GE-powered L410 is expected to be complete in the third quarter of 2012, paving the way for a new production standard offering as well as an engine upgrade program to existing customers who operate M601-powered L410s.
The H80 also has been selected to power the Thrush 510G agriculture aircraft and the Rysachok, a twin-engine, 10-seat general aviation aircraft developed by Technoavia of Russia. GE says baseline engine certification testing on the H80 is complete and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification is expected by year-end. FAA engine certification will follow EASA certification.
The H80, derived from the original Walter M601 but heavily modified with GE 3D aero-design know-how, forms the core of GE’s strategy to penetrate the business and general aviation segment. In particular, GE sees a largely untapped niche in the agricultural, GA and utility market for a competitor to the PT6 turboprop. Following initial test runs in March 2010, the first production-compliant H80 powered an updated Thrush 510G crop duster for its first flight from the airframer’s Albany, Ga., site on Nov. 23 last year.
“This flight is the first time the H80 engine has powered a commuter plane, and the team is thrilled with the initial test flight data,” says Paul Theofan, president and managing executive of GE Aviation’s Business and General Aviation Turboprops. “While the current L410 has been popular in Russia, South America and Africa, the H80 engine’s significant hot-day takeoff performance and high-altitude cruise speeds will allow the re-engined L410 to operate in additional regions around the world.”
More than 450 of the 1,100 L410 aircraft produced to date are still in service and are potential re-engining candidates. Aircraft Industries, formerly known as LET Kunovice, signed a five-year sales agreement with GE Aviation in February for the purchase of M601 and H80 engines.
Photo: Guy Norris