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 March 11, 2005
Vulcanair Twin flies with SMA diesels.
Powered by two SMA SR305-230 Jet A diesel engines, the P68 prototype “I-DJET” successfully completed its maiden flight on February 24. Due to weather conditions, the flight was conducted at an average altitude of 4,000 feet, near the Vulcanair headquarters and production facility in Napoli, Italy. Vulcanair has been very impressed by the aircraft handling and performance and especially the shorter take-off distance. The development flight test campaign should lead to a certification in 2nd quarter of 2005. With the C182, the PA28, the TB20, the SR21 and the M-9, the P68 is the sixth aircraft type equipped and flying with the SMA SR305-230 engine. The P68 is also the first twin application. Thanks to the SR305-230 reduced fuel consumption and high performance, the P68 will definitely be a sensible alternative to many single engine and light twin aircraft in General Aviation market. THe P68 was designed by Partenavia (Italy). Vulcanair is the new venture that revived the certifications. This is the first twin engine application of the SMA-305.
posted at 9:43 AM
News of March 08, 2005
Will the first 350HP diesel be a Thielert or a Continental?
Philip Andrews wrote from Autralia: Thank you for your very informative website. I often have a look to see how things are progressing. Do you think you could possibly find out what Continental (TCM) are doing about their 350hp diesel? We need to convert to diesel in the near future and the only option at the moment is the Thielert Centurion 4. We don't like the idea of a high revving engine, nor a reduction gear box, nor liquid cooling, just more things to go wrong Do you know of any expert analysis that has been done on the Centurion 4? We like the idea of TCM's engine, their smaller GAP engine looked promising. Do you know if they are in partnership with Honda with their 350 hp engine? Thank you for your time and assistance and thanks again for your great website. Regards, Philip Andrews, MAF Australia .
DieselAir answers: Our estimate is that Thielert is more advanced than TCM in developing a 350HP diesel. Here is why: Thielert has a 4 cyl. now running, operating, and certified. Aircrafts are manufactured and delivered with that engine right now (Diamond). Aircraft conversions (Cessna 172), the same. This diesel is a development of the Mercedes 4 cyl. 2.2 liter engine, which represents a lot of experience. Making a V-8 out of a 4 cylinder is relatively easy. TCM has nothing to show yet. The 350HP is being developed with Honda Motors which is a good reference, however the Japanese have much less experience in diesels than the Europeans. I am sure they can do it, but I also know that developing a brand new generation of piston engines takes a lot of time. You know the saying that with nine women you cannot produce a baby in one month: It is the same for internal combustion engines.
SMA is also more advanced than TCM: they chose a different approach, consisting in revving up and gearing down the existing SMA O-305. Of the two I expect Thielert to be the first and SMA the second. Then comes the possible surprise: I am convinced that ultimately it will be a two stroke diesel that will really open the market. Here there are several prototypes already flying, and my bet is DeltaHawk will be the first to produce a V-8 two stroke in that range of power.
Now about geared or non-geared engines: Gears have a bad reputation in the US because Continental and Lycomings are manufactured in small batches and so are their gear transmissions when they do have one, which never was very often. To obtain high precision, silent, long lasting gears at a low cost and zero-defect quality, you need mass production. So the engine may not come directly from the automobile industry, but future gear transmissions certainly will. Notice that the SMA engine, with Renault, Thielert, with Mercedes, and the future TCM diesel, with Honda, all come from an automobile environment. Who knows: we might even see timing belt transmissions instead of gears...
But in any case, we do not expect to see a fully certified 350HP diesel flying on aircraft with N registers before 2008 or 9. For the kind of mission MAF Australia does, my bet is that your first diesel could be a Piper Aztec with two SMA's.
posted at 12:50 AM
News of March 07, 2005
What about big aerodiesels?
Gino asks from Namibia: Dear Andre,Is anyone working on larger calibre aero diesels in for instance the 1000-2000 horsepower range as once used in the Bv222 and Bv138? Gino
Answer: Not at all. This range is covered by turboprops. Because a diesel would be far more fuel efficient especially at all rpm ranges, it would make sense to consider a diesel alternative, but sofar no one has encouraged such an initiative. It would interest a specialized market expecially in developing countries. Remark for readers: the Blohm & Voss 222 was a six engine, German flying boat. The 138 was a three engine German ASR flying boat. Both used the Junkers Jumo opposite piston, twin crankshaft diesel engine, still as of today the most fuel efficient engine that ever cranked a propeller. The Junkers Jumo has been downsized to 100HP by a British aerodiesel manufacturer, go to www.dair.co.uk.
posted at 7:56 AM
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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.
The DieselAir Newsletter is a confidential publication available only as printed material sent by mail (airmail for overseas), to fully identified individuals or businesses involved in General Aviation. Forums and online content may be printed at discretion of the publisher.