• GE Aviation's Catalyst turbo-prop powering a King Air test bed. (GE Aviation)
    GE Aviation's Catalyst turbo-prop powering a King Air test bed. (GE Aviation)

GE Aviation yesterday ran one of their new Catalyst turbo-prop engines in flight for the first time.

The Catalyst engine is thought to be the first new-design turbo-prop engine developed in 50 years and is the first to be made with 3D-printed components. It is destined to power Textron's new Beechcraft Denali SETP.

The engine was fitted to a King Air test bed and flown for 1 hour and 40 min from Berlin Airport.

"The first flight was very successful," said Sigismond Monnet, Chief Test Pilot. "I must say, everything went flawlessly. We actually flew longer than planned, and the engine performed as we expected.

"I look forward to proceeding with the flight test campaign and expanding the Catalyst’s flight envelope.”

“We are very pleased by this successful first flight and proud of our team of outstanding professionals and specialists from all over Europe,” said Riccardo Procacci, CEO of GE Aviation Turboprop Engines.

“The Catalyst first flight opens a world of opportunities in the business and general aviation market with our launch customer at Textron Aviation, but also in the defense space for applications like drones and trainers. It can be, in addition, a super-efficient core that can pave our way towards hybridisation of flight.”

Paul Corkery, GM of GE Aviation Turboprops said the flight was a tremendous moment for the Catalyst engine.

“It is the result of huge efforts by our brilliant team to bring this engine out of the test cell and onto the King Air Flying Test Bed," he said.

"We’re very encouraged by preliminary data from the first flight, and we’re looking forward to continued flight testing on this revolutionary turboprop engine, alongside our launch customer, Textron, that is heading the same way with their Beechcraft Denali prototype.”

GE Aviation has shipped the first flightworthy Catalyst engine to Textron to be fitted to a Denali prototype ahead of the first flight of the type planned for later this year.

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