General Electric is ranked as one of the world’s leading aero engine manufacturers, with a $20 billion business powering airliners, fighters and many other types of aircraft around the world, plus servicing and systems provision. Currently just $400 million of that annual business comes from the Business and General Aircraft (BGA) division, but the company has plans to dramatically expand in that sector, and in so doing is taking on the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 family that currently dominates the marketplace.
Let L-410 Turbolet
GE Aviation is no stranger to the business aviation world. Its CF34 engines have powered Challengers for 30 years, while its larger engines are used by Airbus Corporate Jets and Boeing Business Jets (through its CFM joint venture with France’s Snecma). It is currently bringing the HF120 turbofan (in the GE Honda Aero joint venture with Honda Aircraft) and Passport 20 (for Bombardier’s Global 7000/8000) to the marketplace.
GE is close to having its 800-shp H80 turboprop flying on certified aircraft, thus throwing the gauntlet to the ubiquitous Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) PT6A engine. The first H80-equipped Ayres Thrush 510G cropduster was to be delivered in June. Smyrna Air Center is flight-testing an H80-powered King Air C90, aiming for STC in the third quarter of 2012.
A Czech regional court in Brno has declared Let Kunovice and Ayres Corp. successor Letecke Zavody (LZ) Aeronautical Industries bankrupt, once again leaving hundreds of 19-seat Let L-410 turboprops without a factory support structure.