For the last half century, one engine has dominated the small turboprop aviation market: Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PT6 engine. Now GE Aviation has teamed up with Textron Aviation to challenge PT6’s reign Click To Tweet with an all-new turboprop aircraft and engine. Its chief selling point? The new engine is slated to burn 20 percent less fuel than the PT6 while offering 10 percent higher thrust cruising power than competing products.

It’s a big gambit. GE Aviation will invest up to $1 billion in this project, including $400 million for a new development and production center in Europe. That’s where the company hopes to conduct a detailed design review of the new aircraft in 2017 and its first full engine test in 2018.

 The new engine is slated to burn 20 percent less fuel than the PT6 while offering 10 percent higher thrust cruising power than competing products.

GE is confident the PT6 can be successfully challenged: It expects annual engine sales to reach $1 billion by around 2020. Textron, which manufactures Cessna airplanes and Bell helicopters, is the largest user of small turboprop engines. But GE sees this as a strategic transformation with sales potential beyond that company’s products.

“Our plan is to create a family of engines like [United Technologies’ subsidiary Pratt & Whitney] successfully did, and we’re talking to other airframers now,” said Brad Mottier, head of GE business and general aviation.

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