This summer, Thrush Aircraft launched its 2016 ‘Feeding the World’ campaign. The intent is to shed a spotlight on the vital role that agricultural aviation plays in increasing the planet’s food supply. While many of us take it for granted, an increasingly hungry planet simply can’t – owing to rapid population growth, economic challenges, pressure on water and energy resources and so on.

Feeding a global population expected to reach 9 billion by the year 2050 poses enormous challenges for global food security. At this rate, by 2050 agricultural production will need to increase 170% to meet global food demand, with a concurrent need to improve global food distribution.

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Agricultural Aviation can help
In its 3rd aerial spraying season since Beidahuang General Aviation Co., Ltd. (BDH GA) introduced the Thrush 510G, it is clear that this efficient and reliable agricultural aircraft has become the backbone fleet of BDH GA. The Thrush 510G is powered by GE’s H80 turboprop engine.

BDH GA was established in 1985 and is the largest General Aviation Company in China. With 110 pilots and 130 mechanics and a fleet size of 93 agricultural aircraft, BDH GA is located in the largest food production region of China, which also happens to be relatively sparsely populated. This means the extensive farm and forest land will require a rapid increase in fleet size over the coming years. And, BDH GA is planning on it.

During this past season, BDH GA dispatched a total of 46 aircraft, covering an aerial spraying area of about 16 million acres. Of these, 17 were Thrush 510G airplanes powered by GE and completed a total of 2100 flight hours. According to the staff at BDH GA, the GE powered airplanes delivered exceptional performance of full payload operation. Compared to their older M18 fleet from Sikorsky, the required maintenance of the pre-post flight for Thrush 510G is much less, periodic inspection is simpler and the portable equipment enables them to complete line maintenance work at the airport, without impacting flight operations. Additionally, the H80 engine start requires a one-button switch, providing a car-like experience, an obvious advantage over the M18, which requires a half-hour warm up. Beyond the engine technology, the GE FSE team has also come in for praise for their diligence in solving any and all issues for this important customer.

You could say that the Agronauts are on a mission to ensure that we’re not all on Astronaut diets by 2050! And, GE Aviation is a vital part of this effort.

We can all eat to that!