A Czechered History
GE Aviation acquired the Czech Walter Engines in 2008, and set out to improve the ubiquitous M601 that was developed to power the Let 410 transport for service in the harshest environments in the world. About 300 L410s are still airworthy; about 650 M601s are supported, and another 300-400 “are out there” and could be brought into airworthy compliance with an authorized service check that would remove a five-year calendar overhaul requirement.
Although no longer in production, about 100 M601s are shipped from Prague every year; 80% of these are overhauls, and 20% remanufactured engines. None of them have calendar requirement. Nor do the H80 family of engines, which evolved from the M601 with the infusion by GE of 3D aerodynamics and new materials.
Stoker says he expects M601 overhauls and remanufactures to be part of the business for perhaps the next 15 years until replaced completely by the H80.
Growth Poetential: Conversions
King Air conversions will be a major market for the H80, says Jim Stoker. STC developer Smyrna Air Center in Tennessee, USA, delivered the world’s first King Air C90 with H80 engines replacing the PT6s last January, and both Europe and Latin America are seen as major opportunities. GE is supporting the STC and helping raise its visibility. The plan is to license the STC in Europe (a partner has been pre-selected in the France-Germany-Spain area), and an announcement is imminent, says Milan Slapak.
Stoker noted that GE will ask Conklin & deDecker to analyze the financial benefits of the H80 conversion, just as it did in 2010 when it found significant benefits for installing M601E-11A engines in the King Air C90.
The benefits of the H80 should be even more significant as it has 3-1/2% better fuel consumption than the M601E, and a time-between-overhaul of 3,600 hours vs 3,000, says Stoker. And compared with the PT6, it also has no hot section inspection requirement.
Canada’s Winnipeg River Aircraft is aiming for year-end for an STC for the H80 in a single DHC-3 Otter, and a second engine will be delivered to them for that program by the end of June.