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.
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News of July 05, 2005
What most diesel experts miss about why diesel is coming: The Case of the inexperienced IFR pilot in his Cessna 172 (or Piper Warrior)
Yes, I know, all you think of about aerodiesel is savings on fuel, no more dependence on Avgas, longer TBO’s and all that jazz. And so do the aviation engineers and experienced pilots think of when they tell you about how fantastic their engine will be. Let me try to reprogram you. I want you to put yourself in my place where I was 4 years ago, a recent IFR ASEL pilot thinking about buying his first plane and being short on funds. Because there are lots of pilots and potential pilots in the same situation today, and lots of them will give up flying and owning a plane before you know about them. Keep in mind that AOPA is doing a lot of work to attract new pilots and aircraft owners, who painfully got their VFR license, discovered that you cannot seriously take your family to the beaches in VFR conditions, then painfully got their IFR ticket – because they found out they do love flying - and now wonder what plane they can afford. Keep in mind that the US has by far the biggest population of private pilots owning a plane or a share in a plane and that this population (around 700,000 if I am right) is dwindling down…
The most reasonable plane they could buy is a 172 or Warrior because they are real minimal family planes and are not too expensive to maintain. Yet you and I know we won’t recommend them such a plane for IFR travel. Why? Speed? Not at all. If you love flying, what does it matter if you get there in three hours and a half instead of four hours and a quarter?
The real reason is these 40 gallon tanks. If you fly IFR with legal reserves for one alternate plus some because you are inexperienced, you will always plan for 2 hours reserves. This means you have 2.5 hours of practical range. Worse: It means that if you are stuck above the clouds because, down there, the whole neighborhood suddenly went below minima’s, you will get nervous about how much fuel you still have. Remember: I am talking of an inexperienced pilot.
Which is why the 182 remains so popular: With 90 gallons on Auto-Pilot, you can fly economy for 7 hours and you will never worry about spending time in the air preparing and negotiating a new flight plan while talking to Flightwatch.
Well, a diesel 172 or Warrior, with 40 gallons of Jetfuel and after burning, say, half of its fuel at max. cruise speed before the bad news, can reduce speed down to 4 gallons/hour and still have five hours available. It has become a true IFR cross country plane, and a safe one. How fast? You will gradually find out that, at 12,000 ft (remember a diesel is turbocharged and comes with a constant speed propeller), it is faster than the same plane on Avgas at 8,000, and flies that much higher above the weather.
And if, instead of a 172, it is a modern aircraft, Diamond-like, composites, high aspect ratio, the works? Of course it would do even better. But be realistic: A new pilot with limited means buying his first plane, in 90% of cases, will be well advised to buy a plane he can afford to maintain, and which is easy to resell. And in the US that’s called a 172 or a Cherokee/Warrior. Of course a diesel 182 will be even better; but at a higher cost. Of course a 172 diesel will spend a bit more on propeller TBO, but less on engine TBO and much less on fuel; it will not risk engine fire on board, and it will have long legs now.
If you disagree, let’s meet on the Forum!
posted at 5:59 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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