According to the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), Business aviation contributes $150 billion to U.S. economic output and employs more than 1.2 million people. And that’s just in the U.S. Most of the airplanes may be smaller, but the business is still big.
Earlier this week, the NBAA held its annual convention expo in Las Vegas and it featured top iconic brands in this segment, as well as some new up-and-comers. GE Aviation is a little bit of both.
For years, GE has powered business aviation aircraft with engines like the CJ610, CF700 and the CF34. However, just over the last decade, GE and its joint ventures have developed two brand new centerline engines that are now on the market: the GE-Honda HF120 and the GE Passport engine. GE’s Catalyst engine enters service on the Cessna Denali, making it three in 10 years. GE also has its H Series turboprop in service and is also developing the Affinity, the first new civil supersonic engine to hit the space in 50 for the Aerion AS2.
Add in products made by our avionics and integrated systems business as well featuring Dowty, Unison Industries and Avio Aero, and you begin to see the great emphasis, as well as potential, that GE’s has in business and general aviation.
Here is some of the GE-related news that has come out this week during the NBAA show:
GE Aviation’s Digital Group: Bombardier and GE Aviation announced their fleet-wide connectivity partnership on Tuesday. The Canadian jet manufacturer selected GE Aviation as their Preferred Service Provider (PSP), enabling GE to power Bombardier’s cockpit and cabin connectivity solutions. This is a first step toward the launch of Bombardier’s comprehensive Smart Link Plus connected aircraft program launching in the second half of 2020. It will help Bombardier customers drive operations and maintenance decisions by leveraging fleet-wide data.
In a second part of the agreement, GE Aviation will also work with Bombardier on the development of the Smart Link Plus box – a Health Monitoring Unit (HMU) “smart” box capable of generating key data for customers, enabling them to increase operational efficiency, and minimize return-to-service times through data-driven decisions. The smart box technology was first introduced on the flagship Global 7500 aircraft and will now be adapted for eligible Challenger and other Global aircraft programs, further maximizing the Bombardier in-service experience.
“Our new Smart Link Plus connected aircraft program will create fully-connected aircraft, enabling customers to access key data and insights to help with decision-making and flight operations,” said Jean-Christophe Gallagher, Vice President and General Manager, Customer Experience at Bombardier.
GE has been providing engines for the planemaker to its success by powering its most iconic jet program – Challenger 600.
GE’s Catalyst: GE announced it continues to prepare for first flight on its Catalyst turboprop engine, which will likely take place next year. GE Aviation and Czech Technical University partnered on collaborative research and are finalizing the preparation for the first flight on a twin-engine flying test bed powered.
The engine is the first clean-sheet turboprop to hit the business and general aviation market in more the 50 years. The Catalyst will be the first turboprop engine in the market to feature technology that GE uses on its commercial engines. This includes a dual-channel Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) and cooled blades and variable stator vanes. These technologies help give the Catalyst engine 10 percent more power and at least 15 percent improvement in fuel burn over traditional turboprop engines.
“It’s absolutely clear that we meet or exceed all performance metrics for the engine,” said Brad Mottier, GE Aviation vice-president and general manager of business and general aviation.
GE’s going through the most extensive certification testing ever for a turboprop engine in the segment. Development tests completed include: altitude, endurance, vibration, durability, ingestion and integrated prop controls. The Catalyst team has also completed two component certification tests, as well as its first engine certification test – PT Loss of Load.
GE’s Catalyst has more than 1,600 hours of combined operation between engine testing and compressor rig testing. Five development engines are assembled. GE will deliver a flight test engine next year for Textron Aviation’s Cessna Denali, a new single-engine design from the company.
Passport: Between flight testing and entry into service on the Bombardier Global 7500, Passport has accumulated more than 8,000 hours. The engine is meeting or exceeding key performance parameters so far in terms of fuel burn, weight and noise.
In March of this year, a Global 7500 business jet set a world record by flying 8,152 nautical miles (9,350 miles) in 16 hours and 6 minutes. It landed with 90 minutes worth of spare fuel.
Inspired by that success, in October, the business jet upped the ante once again by flying from Sydney to Detroit on a single tank of fuel. It pushed the limit for the longest nonstop city-pair flight in business aviation history to 8,225 nautical miles (9,465 miles).
Passport, like all of GE’s commercial engine counterparts, can use sustainable fuels. Production and use of alternate fuels are key to the industry’s Business Aviation Commitment on Climate Change which seeks to achieve carbon neutral growth from 2020 forward. At EBACE this year, the Bombardier team flew the Global 7500 on approved “drop in” sustainable jet fuel. There are currently 5 synthetic pathways to jet fuel approved by the industry. Passport is approved for all of them.