GE expands in business and general aviation market with new engine

GE Aviation is entering a new business and general aviation market for small aircraft engines and announced Monday the company reached an agreement to supply major plane manufacturer Textron Aviation Inc.

The launch of the new engine product also marks another first for the southwest Ohio-based company: the first aircraft engine the company will design and manufacture outside of the United States, according to GE.

Textron, the maker of Beechcraft and Cessna planes, is developing a new airplane and has selected GE Aviation to power it. The turboprop engine and plane are expected to enter service after 2020, said GE spokesman Matthew Benvie.

This will be GE Aviation’s first engine made for the 850 to 1,600 turboprop horse power market. This is significant because not only will a new engine product be built, but winning the Textron deal is also expected to help further expand GE’s general aviation business for single-engine planes with more airplane makers, Benvie said.

“For us, we haven’t been on those planes which have been solely powered by Pratt & Whitney” for about 50 years or so, Benvie said.

Evendale-based GE Aviation started the business and general aviation division in 2008 with less than $100 million in revenues a year, Benvie said. But thanks to sales of existing turboprop engines — including an engine for the 750 to 850 horse power market and service agreements — and a new business jet engine due to enter the market in 2018 known as Passport, revenues are projected to grow to over $1 billion by 2020. And those projections don’t include the newly-won Textron product deal, he said.

That means business and general aviation is one of GE Aviation’s newest and smallest divisions but growing, he said. Other business lines include large commercial jet and military engines.

“For the past five years, GE conducted design studies and actively researched the turboprop market to identify and integrate the best of our next-gen commercial and military technologies at the lowest cost and risk to our business aviation customers,” said Brad Mottier, vice president and general manager of GE Aviation’s Business and General Aviation and Integrated Systems division, in a written statement.

GE Aviation announced in September plans to build a turboprop center of excellence for testing and making these new engine types in Europe, but has yet to announce where the facility will be built. The location should be named by the end of March next year, Benvie said. Meanwhile, engineers in Italy are already working on the Textron engine design, he said.