For many years, the one market segment that General Electric’s turbine engine-manufacturing business didn’t serve was aircraft that use smaller turboprop engines. But that is changing; GE announced yesterday that it is buying Czech engine manufacturer Walter Engines. Based in Prague, Walter has manufactured more than 37,000 aircraft engines since 1923.
Business jet and turboprop shipments were both up roughly 15 percent in the first half of this year, compared to the first six months of last year, according to data released last week by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). There were 475 jet and 182 turboprop shipments in the first six months of this year, according to GAMA.
Pratt & Whitney Canada said last month its PW600 engine has been selected to power the new Epic Victory single-engine VLJ. Up to that point, Epic had used the Williams FJ33-4A for the Victory. P&WC’s PT6A-67 had previously been selected to power Epic’s Dynasty turboprop.
China’s Xi’an Aircraft Company (XAC) landed the largest-ever order from a Chinese airline for its MA60 regional turboprop last month. Privately held Okay Airways said it has agreed to lease 10 of the 60-seat turboprops, the first of which it plans to deploy by the end of the year. It expects to take delivery of the rest within two years, it added.
Extra Aircraft’s six-seat Extra 500 turboprop single received European Aviation Safety Agency certification last month. According to company officials, production of the Rolls-Royce 250-B17F/2-powered composite airplane is ready to begin at the company’s facility in Hunxe, Germany, as soon as the pending FAA approval is obtained. The first production aircraft is expected to be finished in December.
Epic’s single-engine Victory jet made its first flight on July 6 from Roberts Field in Redmond, Ore. The Williams International FJ33-4A-powered jet was unveiled at the Sun ’n’ Fun show in April, and first flight took place 202 days after design work began.
The cyclical nature of the airline business showed its inevitability again at this year’s Regional Airline Association convention, held May 21 to 24 in Memphis, Tenn. More than 1,500 visitors passed through the turnstiles at the Memphis Convention Center–a record number for an RAA convention.
Comp Air is firming up plans to certify the single-engine turboprop Model 12, having agreed to work with Downing Aviation Associates “to secure funding, engineering and operational resources” to bring the airplane to market.
Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) continues to consider a possible new turboprop design that could provide a sufficient advance on the PT6, which through its myriad variants offers 700 to 2,000 shp. However, for the moment at least, the manufacturer sees no immediate prospect of moving on from the ubiquitous powerplant to a new-generation engine in the same power range.
Alenia Aeronautica and Xian Aircraft Company (XAC) of China yesterday announced an agreement for the production of a section of the ATR turboprop’s rear fuselage section in China. XAC, part of the China aviation consortium AVIC I, will supply the piece, called Section 18, to Alenia for the ATR aircraft starting later this year.