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GE details plans for new turboprop engine

posted Sep 27, 2012, 12:16 AM by Michael Adams
GE Aviation is working on a new turboprop engine, dubbed the CPX38, to fly on the next generation of 70- to 90-seat turboprops.
The CPX38 will be based on an existing core and could enter the market by the end of the decade—or within three years at the earliest.
“We think the turboprop market is going to continue to be a very vibrant part of regional operations and we are planning to offer an engine in this segment,” GE Aviation regional aviation engine operations GM Allen Paxson said, speaking at the European Regions Airline Assn. (ERA) General Assembly in Dublin.
The CPX38 will be based on the GE38 core, which is going through final testing for an application on the Sikorsky CH-53K Super Stallion helicopter.
“We have an engine today that we believe is ready for an airframe,” Paxson said. “We are in discussions with the airframers on what their needs are going to be. It will be low-risk, on a proven architecture.”
Paxson said GE is aiming for a 15% improvement in specific fuel consumption (SFC) with the CPX38, although “that moves around” depending on optimization. The engine is being tailored for severe operating environments and the target is 99.95% reliability.
The number of blades is likely to increase, compared with today’s typical six-bladed variants. “Currently we are targeting for an eight-bladed prop. The prop diameter may get larger; we are trying to maintain the noise levels. Whether it is six, eight or 10 blades, we’ll work on that as we integrate it with the airframe.”
GE has already incurred the development costs for the GE38 and Paxson said it could take “just one reasonable market” of 400-500 aircraft to launch the CPX38.
“We are continuing to develop the GE38 and putting together partnerships, for the nacelles, etc to make sure we are ready for airframer when need us,” Paxson said. “We expect the CPX38 to come out this decade, if we can find an airframer.”
The lead time, from when the airframe has been identified to final certification, would be about three to four years.
Paxson essentially rules out the potential to re-engine an existing airframe with the CPX38. “This is for a larger size aircraft so really we are looking for an aircraft with a greater max empty weight with 60, 70, 80 or 90 seats, so bigger than the current aircraft today.”