Today, traveling on a private jet is more affordable and simple than ever before. While empty legs on private jets are making it surprisingly cheap to book a flight, GE Aviation is taking it a step further by using 3D printed parts, which can eventually bring down the price even more. They first started their work by unveiling the 3D-printed LEAP engine fuel nozzle back in 2013 and have stayed in the game ever since. The component has since been used as an example of 3D technology should be used to manufacture parts as they lead to less fuel consumption and emission.
Now, GE Aviation is using their skill and experience to produce 3D printed end parts for small aircraft. By partnering with Textron Aviation, the company has worked to build a properly power aircraft that is designed to have the luxury of a private jet, with the cost of a propeller plane. The model is named “The Cessna Denali”, and it is aimed to be priced at approximately $4.8 million. The plane is capable of flying from a distance such as New York to Miami. Though the price might seem high for an ordinary traveler, it is nothing compared to how much a typical private jet can cost.
The engine took several years to design and develop. After acquiring Czech turboprop engine manufacturer Walter Aircraft Engines, GE Aviation has worked intensively to create an engine that can fill the niche between propellers and private jets. The end result is a 1,650 shaft horsepower engine, which is at least 10% more powerful than any other engine of its class. Along with that, they also managed to cut down fuel consumption by 20%. The overall achievement is truly remarkable for the aviation industry.
To achieve this, GE brought together hundreds of single components into a small number of 3D printed parts for titanium and steel. Along with that, they also added technologies similar to jet engines, which has never been done in a prop plane. These include stator vanes, made for supersonic jets, which increased the efficiency of the engine.
With their new partner in Textron Aviation, the company found their perfect match with the largest business propeller plane producer. The engine was featured in their new aircraft, the Cessna Denali, which is built to match private jets both in speed and flight quality. It can carry eight passengers comfortably, and works with a single lever system to control both engine and propeller, just like a jet.
Though it will take till 2018 for the first Cessna Denali to take flight, it is already available for preorder and shows a real promise for the future of private travel and the aviation industry. Soon, we can hope to see private jets become even more affordable, and can even replace commercial flights.