The annual Oshkosh Air Show kicked off today with thousands of aviation enthusiasts and vintage and experimental planes descending into the Wisconsin town. It also marked GE’s first win for its new turboprop engine. Thrush Aircraft, which has about 2,000 planes — such as its crop-dusting and fire-fighting models flying in 90 countries — just chose GE’s new H80 engine for its updated Thrush 510 model. While GE is known for making advanced jet engines, such as the giant GE 90, and the breakthrough composite GEnx for the upcoming Boeing Dreamliner, that engine expertise is also being put to use on a smaller generation of planes following GE’s purchase of Walter Engines last year.
As Bloomberg News noted in its story, the engine “is GE Aviation‘s first since it bought Czech Republic-based Walter Engines A.S. a year ago to enter turboprop markets dominated by Pratt & Whitney Canada. The H80 is based on Walter’s M601 design and upgraded with GE materials and technology. Thrush 510 buyers can choose either the GE engine or a version of Pratt’s PT6.” Bloomberg continues: “GE formed the general aviation unit, which targets the business- and private-aircraft markets, last year. The unit also manufactures an engine for the HondaJet, a six-passenger plane that Honda Motor Co. plans to start delivering to customers in 2011.”
The GE Honda engine, the HF120, will initially begin production at GE’s site in Lynn, Massachusetts and will later transition to Honda Aero Inc.’s recently completed engine production and overhaul facility in Burlington, North Carolina.