Performance of the world’s most “printed engine,” GE’s new Catalyst advanced turboprop in which additive manufacturing replaces 855 normally made parts with just 12 “printed” components, is on target or better as certification testing gets underway.

The first engine has run more than 100 hours at an 800-channel test rig at the Czech Technical University’s (CVUT) Center of Aerospace and Space Technology in Prague. A second Catalyst engine is now running in a test rig at GE Aviation’s Czech facility in Prague, and will be sent to Canada later this year for altitude testing.

The Catalyst is the first all-new, clean-sheet engine in more than 30 years in the business and general aviation (BGA) market. The 1,240-shp-rated engine is part of GE’s family of turboprop engines aimed at BGA aircraft in the 1,000-1,600-shp range, and will power the new Cessna Denali utility aircraft.

By utilizing technologies proven on GE’s larger commercial engines, the Catalyst balances “all new” with “low risk and high value,” says Brad Mottier, VP and GM of business, general aviation and integrated systems. GE has committed more than US$400 million in development costs, and has invested more than US$1 billion in developing the company’s additive manufacturing capabilities.

Catalyst is designed to bring up to 20% better fuel burn and 10% more power than an equivalent-size 800-shp to 1,650-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6, with a 33% better time-between-overhaul of 4,000 hrs.

In an industry first for an engine this size, Catalyst will feature a single-lever full authority digital electronic control (FADEC) that will manage fuel flow, propeller pitch and speed as well as bleed valves and variable stators within the engine. The result? Jet-like operability for the pilot, with a single “throttle” lever and built-in limit protections that will greatly reduce cockpit workload.

That new level of systems automation will enable the industry to jump to advanced aircraft featuring more “intelligence” and software-controlled systems, says Mottier. “It acts as a catalyst in an industry segment that has seen very little technology infusion in decades.” Hence the name ‘Catalyst,’ which was adopted earlier this year.​