May 23, 2012
GE Aviation is “ready to go” on a new engine to power 70-90 seat turboprops as well as a next generation regional jet powerplant, and awaits decisions from airframers, says Allen Paxson, the company’s general manager for small commercial engines.
The CPX38 turboprop engine could be ready for operations within 36 months once a manufacturer orders it because the core of the engine would be the same as the GE38 developed for military helicopters, which is being readied for service on CH-53 Marine helicopters in 2015 or 2016, Paxson said May 22 at the Regional Airline Association Annual Convention in Minneapolis.
“We want to leverage that to the turboprop market. We think we have a turboprop engine that’s ready. Obviously, the next step is that we’re looking for an airframe . . . We have been talking with all of the airframers on the turboprop side," he added.
GE Aviation expects a fuel efficiency improvement of about 15% when compared to current Bombardier Q400 engines, although Paxson cautions that the comparison is not exact because of differences in thrust.
But while the engine manufacturer is ready, it is beholden to the airframers, and representatives from ATR and Bombardier seemed in no rush to make a decision about a new turboprop when interviewed at the convention.
Mark Neely, VP of marketing and sales for ATR, says the larger turboprop is “certainly something we continue to look at,” but describes the study as ongoing with more feedback expected from airlines this year. He would not commit to any decisions in 2012, but says most potential customers still want turboprops optimized for the 300 to 350 mile range.
Similarly, Philippe Poutissou, VP, marketing for Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, says the company is studying the desirability and requirements for a higher-capacity Q400.
Meanwhile, GE Aviation also is ready for regional jet manufacturers to make a decision on next generation aircraft and is in “active discussions” with Embraer. The engine maker, which says it could develop a new RJ powerplant in 48 months, expects a 15-20% lower fuel burn when compared to its CF34-10E5 and CF34-8C5 engines thanks to improvements in both propulsive and thermal efficiency.
The thrust can be pushed to about 23,000 pounds, says Paxson, noting that one Embraer redesign for its E-Jets (that has since been scaled down) needed as much as 24,000 to 25,000 pounds of thrust, which would require an engine like CFM International’s LEAP engine (which is developed by GE and Snecma).