Longer-legged H80 gets its wings

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GE Aviation’s H80 turboprop engine received type certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency in December, and has thus become the first engine from the company to go the EASA route first, with FAA certification set to follow.

Paul Theofan, president and managing executive of GE Aviation’s Business and General Aviation Turboprops division, described certification as “a significant achievement for the GE Aviation facility in the Czech Republic along with the engineering teams in Evendale, Ohio, and Lynn, Massachusetts, which helped in the design”.

The H80 engine builds on the proven M601, using 3D aerodynamic design techniques and advanced materials to create a more powerful, fuel-efficient, durable engine that requires no recurrent fuel nozzle inspections and no hot section inspection. It will provide the option of a single- or dual-acting governor, allowing customers to have flexibility in propeller selection. The overhaul interval is extended to 3,600 flight hours or 6,600 cycles.

The H80 engine has been selected to power multiple applications, including Czech manufacturer Aircraft Industries’ L410 commuter plane, Technoavia’s newly designed Rysachok 10-seat general aviation aircraft and the Thrush 510G agricultural aircraft, which will enter into service shortly.

GE Aviation is supporting the H80 with an expanded service network, naming Premier Turbine as a designated repair centre for the new engine and the M601 in North and South America. Appointed as authorised service centres for both engines are Smyrna Air Center, Cascade Aircraft Conversions, Winnipeg River Aircraft, Sky Tractor Supply Co and Cutter Aviation for North America; Alagro Fumigaciones, Solo Aviation, and TAM AE for South America; and AG Aero for Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines.

Mauritius-based Air-Tec Aviation Maintenance was confirmed in January as an authorised service centre for the H80 and M601, offering comprehensive line maintenance, removals and re-installations of engines and LRUs and engine spares for both engine families. In addition, Air-Tec will provide some on-wing heavy repairs and manage a pool of spare/rental engines for the African region.

“Air-Tec has extensive experience with L410/420 aircraft,” said Theofan. “Africa has a large installed base of M601-powered L410 aircraft and represents a significant growth opportunity for the H80 engine.”

As an operator in its own right, Air-Tec has the largest L410 fleet in Africa. The company also sells and leases L410s and 420s to regional airlines, aid agencies and NGOs, oil exploration companies and clients requiring smaller aircraft.

Aircraft Industries’ new L410-UVP-E20, powered by twin H80 engines and fitted with Avia AV-725 propellers, made its maiden flight over the manufacturer’s home airport of Kunovice, in the eastern Czech Republic, in November. The propellers are an upgraded version of the current V-510, with modified blades, improved aerodynamic efficiency and reduced weight.

The engines performed “extremely well” during the 40-minute flight, according to Miroslav Kozisek, product support director at Aircraft Industries. “The flight test crew put the aircraft and engines through many manoeuvres, and the results are very promising as we begin our flight tests. We look forward to certifying the aircraft/engine combination and offering our customers the new H80 engines as a powerplant on the L410,” he said.

Theofan commented that the flight marked the first time the H80 engine had powered a commuter plane, and was encouraged by the test flight data. “While the current L410 has been popular in Russia, South America and Africa, the H80 engine’s significant hot-day takeoff performance and high-altitude cruise speeds will allow the re-engined L410 to operate in additional regions around the world, which is exciting news for existing L410 operators as well as new potential customers,” he added.

The H80-powered L410 is expected to complete certification in the third quarter of this year. Aircraft Industries will fit the engine on all new L410s, and offer an upgrade programme to existing customers flying M601-powered aircraft.

More than 1,100 L410s have been produced since the aircraft entered service in 1969, and some 450 aircraft are still in operation. Aircraft Industries signed a five-year sales agreement with GE Aviation in February 2011 for the purchase of H80 and M601 engines.