News

GE Aviation and XTI Aircraft Company announced that XTI has selected GE’s Catalyst engine as the core of its TriFan 600 hybrid-electric propulsion system. The two companies will work together to define a series hybrid architecture that will meet the TriFan performance requirements.

“XTI has been seeking out the best hybrid propulsion solution for the TriFan 600 and we believe the Catalyst is the right choice,” said GE Aviation Turboprops General Manager Paul Corkery. “GE believes that parallel and series hybrid propulsion systems, those that include a turbine gas generator to take advantage of the energy density of jet fuel, will lead to much more capable aircraft for both traditional and emerging markets for many years to come. The Catalyst is a new, clean-sheet design that will greatly reduce fuel consumption, enabling longer in-flight missions and increased payload compared to other alternatives in this class.”
“We are excited to announce selection of the GE Catalyst engine for the core of our propulsion system because it provides the level of power required even at the significant altitudes the Trifan will fly,” said XTI CEO Bob LaBelle. “Our recent work with GE Aviation has convinced us they are the best partner to develop the core of our hybrid-electric propulsion system.”
The six-seat TriFan 600 will have a top speed of 300 knots, maximum range of 1,200 nm, and cruise altitude of 30,000 feet. To date, customers have placed orders for 80 TriFan 600s.
GE engineers purpose-built the Catalyst engine with simplicity in mind. The Full Authority Digital Engine and Propeller Control (FADEPC) a first for the industry, delivers single-lever power control, reducing pilot workload while providing greater levels of control and responsiveness. With advanced manufacturing techniques like 3-D printing, we have reduced 855 parts to 12 components thereby reducing weight, wear and leakage. This engine is also designed for predictive maintenance enabling personalized service and improved aircraft availability.

Analysis

With the GE Catalyst hybrid-electric engine, GE has joined Pratt & Whitney Canada in developing new electric power sources for Urban Mobility (UAM) aircraft, expected to be highly automated aircraft designed to transport and packages. (See Daily Insight: Tuesday 9 July 2019 – Hybrid Electric Turboprops – Under Development)

There are more than 250 UAM aircraft in development, with the vast majority being designed around electric and hybrid-electric power sources for propulsion. Electric power offers the potential for environmentally friendly operations, which are quieter and less costly to operate.

Insight

The market for UAM aircraft is further enabled with two major aerospace engine companies developing hybrid-electric engines to meet the demand for electric powered aircraft. By utilizing technologies proven on larger commercial engines over millions of flight hours, these engine manufacturers are balancing “all new” with “low risk and high value” thus advancing the UAM market. The battle for the UAM aircraft market among the traditional aerospace engine companies and new entrants will be interesting to watch over the next few years.

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