News, facts, and comments on the coming revolution for piston-engine aircraft.
In 1998, one diesel engine flew on a converted airplane for the first time since 1945. Today, close to 4,000 singles and twins are flying. This is the beginning of a worldwide trend which will eventually allow a rebirth of the piston-engined aircraft, around new specs and new missions.
DieselAir Research, Inc., the publisher of The DieselAir Newsletter, offers strategic intelligence services to the aircraft industry, its suppliers and its customers who ambition to benefit from this global change of paradigm which will mean new markets, new concepts, new services, new materials and components… You may be interested in our services if your firm designs and/or manufactures aircraft and components, aero engines, avionics, propellers and engine components, fuel systems or additives, advanced materials, or industry specific machinery for manufacturing of these; or provides aviation services such as fuel production or distribution; flight training, aircraft chartering, maintenance and operations (FBO’s); or airport management and design, traffic control, hangar, materials handling and storage equipment; or consulting and financial services for these industries; or advertising, sales promotion, trade shows, specialized publications.
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News of January 15, 2005
2005 Outlook of the World Aerodiesel Market
As of now, the world market has moved pretty well in line with our 2002 forecast. (click here to contact us for a PowerPoint copy on CDRom)
The first US aircraft manufacturer to offer a certified diesel aircraft is Maule Air (www.mauleairinc.com) in Moultrie, GA. Maule is, surprisingly enough for such a small company, a big exporter which depends on the European and overseas markets where Avgas cost is $7-10/Gallon. The Maule MX7 comes with the SMA305, 230HP. (www.smasr.com).
The biggest retrofit sales are generated by Thielert Centurion (www.thielert.com) with the Cessna 172 in Europe. See our review of flight tests in our Archives. It is basically a 135HP diesel 172 with a constant speed propeller behaves at least as well as a O-320 160HP plane, and better at higher altitude allowed by the diesel. We expect the 172 conversion to seriously take off in the US in 2006. The Piper PA28 conversion has been flying for some time. Any flight academy who has a coherent fleet of 172s or Cherokee/Warriors should seriously consider such a conversion for its whole fleet in one batch to reduce upfront conversion costs.
The biggest producer of new aircraft with diesels is Diamond (www.diamondair.com), with the DA40 single and the DA42 twin Thielert. When I'll have the funds, I will commute between Atlanta PDK which is 3 miles from my home, and Ales, South of France, Europe which is 25 miles from my family home, through Gander and the Azores Islands, with a DA 42. Of course I will spend a week end in the Azores each way. Diamond's sales have taken off in Europe, are only very slowly taking off in the US because of the lack of diesel technicians here. We expect this to improve fast, with Thielert's and SMA's efforts to put in place customer services.
The regional market that will take off the fastest in North America is the US/Canadian Northwest, Alaska and British Columbia, where we hear the first testimonies reporting problems of Avgas availability and local businesses suffering of high Avgas costs.
The big opportunities we see for the 2006-2010 period will be:
A reasonable amount of Cessna 182's will be converted to the SMA diesel. What limits this conversion, however, is that 182's seldom are heavy flyers. It stands to reason that planes flying at least 500 hours/Yr. are prime candidates for diesels. 172's and PA28's used as trainers easily fly 500 to 1,000 hours/Yr. An IFR private pilot that flies his 182 more than 300 hours/Yr. is generally ready to upgrade to a Cessna 210, a Bonanza or Saratoga. However the 182 SMA, once it will be around, will find its own clientele noticing the economy, higher speed at higher altitude, and lower maintenance cost.
We are convinced that the Piper Aztec would perform wonders with a SMA 230HP. It has two O-540 engines downrated to 250HP, which means heavy engines. It is overpowered, therefore an excellent plane for heavy loads and short take offs. With the SMA, it will gain altitude, speed and range, and reduce its TBO costs drastically. This conversion would bring a new life to this excellent plane. The existing fleet is important.
We expect that a Delta Hawk diesel 160HP (www.deltahawkengines.com) conversion for 172's should be available soon as an Experimental. Who will offer it first? It would be the sole 100% US-made conversion available.
Who will be the first to demonstrate a 100HP diesel on a Cessna 150-152? Possible candidates are D-Air (UK, www.dair.co.uk) with its scaled-down Junkers Jumo with opposite pistons, and Wilksch Airmotive (UK, www.wilksch.com) with its 3 cylinder 2-stroke 120HP engine. This conversion could become very economical for flight academies in the long term. Remark: D-Air got an order from the US Defense for a small aircraft engine able to start at 15,000 ft. This may help them fund future marketing efforts.
Both Thielert and SMA are working on a 300-350 HP diesel. The SMA will be a higher rpm, geared 305 c. i. 4 cylinder, and the Thielert will be a V8 based on their present in-line 4 cyl. Mercedes diesel. In theory, the SMA should be lighter. Continental supposedly is still working with Honda Motors on a 300 HP aerodiesel, however Teledyne Continental's information services keep a very low profile on that project. Delta Hawk is also working on a 300HP, with the 2-stroke advantage. Whoever will be first will open a more serious market: Mini-Commuters and Air-Cargoes using presently Piper Navajo's and Chieftain's, Aero Commanders and Beech Queen Air's. These planes fly easily 1,000 hours/Yr. and the diesel would mean at same time longer legs (precious for IFR mountain operations), lower fuel costs and far reduced maintenance costs which are the reason why today these planes have a low market value.
Send us questions, opinions and objections. We are ready to publish them!
Andre Teissier-duCros, Publisher
posted at 8:00 PM
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Every month: news, facts, and comments on the coming revolution for piston-engines aircrafts between 130 and 400 HP: Retrofitting a diesel engine to run on Jetfuel or Kerosene, reduce Gallons/Hour by some 30%, eliminate ignition systems (magnetos, spark plugs) and their problems, eliminate mixture control, increase TBO to 2,400-3,000 hours, increase performance between 6,000 and 12,500 ft., and drastically reduce Operating Costs.
The letter is intended for piston engines aircraft owners, manufacturers, fleet operators and FBOs, re-manufacturers of engines for these aircrafts, manufacturers of engine components and ancillaries, and all professionals acting in decisions of engine exchange or refitting at TBO, in North and South America, Pacific Rim, African continent, and all parts of the world were Avgas, Mogas, Kerosene and Jetfuel are available.
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