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 October 22, 2005
Alan Klapmeier, Cirrus Design's President, comments on diesel
I had a chance to ask questions and briefly interview Alan Klapmeier, the famous CEO and founder of Cirrus Design, today the General Aviation aircraft which sells the most in the US and worldwide. By pure chance, I had flown as co-pilot in a Cirrus SR22 from Atlanta to New York and back the day before and had my questions ready to,lsten to his presentation at the Atlanta Aero-Club on 10/21. My assessment is that the Cirrus is a fantastic plane, in which the only technology that can be called obsolete is the engine... Notably I was impressed by the Engine Management System integrated in the glass panel, and by the fact that normal procedure supposes setting a lean-of-peak regime which is confirmed by a graphic representation of EGT in each cylinder, showing in real time the consequences of mixture setting. It made me think of what a steam engine operation would look like if, in the days of the railroad steam engined locomotives, we had had graphic representation of the pressure condition in each cylinder during each cycle. Railroad steam engine drivers would have loved that... But they were replaced by diesels.
Alan confirmed that they have talks in progress with SMA regarding a Cirrus diesel, and was impressed by the quality and seriousness of the firm as a potential supplier. He also said he had tested in flight the Diamond DA40 diesel and found it impressive. In his opinion, engine starts at very cold temperature still were a problem. Diesel is coming, "but not quite ready yet"... His presentation completely converted me to the parachute concept, on which I was skeptical until now; in fact, the fool-proof idea behind this technology fits well with what diesel engines bring, which go way beyond savings on cost of fuel as most pilots still think. More on this later.
posted at 10:26 AM
Letter from the Bi-Rotor AutoGyro (BRAG) Group...
We received this letter from Ben Mullett, Principal:
"I am founder and technical director of The Bi-Rotor AutoGyro (B.R.A.G.) Group based near Bedford, UK. We have been running for over three years now, and anticipate using diesel power in some future designs for a number of reasons, all of which I re-discovered in a brief acquaintance with your excellent web site. We are working on the development of this BRAG configuration, which offers good efficiency for a rotorcraft due to the 2x higher aspect ratio of the rotor system - this brings a theoretical reduction in induced drag of 4x - we are seeing this repeatedly borne out in the power loadings at which we can fly our increasingly large models. The same simulations that predict our real model performance also predict a full scale 4-seater rotorcraft with near-VTOL capability that flies well on 135 bhp. The sims say it can cruise near 110 Kts using off-the-shelf components - no special rotor technology. Part of the path to this performance is the application of a small amount of power to the rotors - it allows them to fly with the rotor disk plane aligned to the direction of motion, and de-skills the rotor management. An autogyro tilts the rotor back to allow the air to power the rotor, a helicopter tilts the rotor forward to use it for propulsion, but we run the rotor as near flat as we can arrange, since there is in that area a regime where the rotor thrust vector is perpendicular to the direction of motion, and rotor thrust drag is zero. The BRAG configuration is also unusually stable, and both models and simulations have been successfully flown at the first attempt by pilots with no previous experience. They fly permanently in (assisted) auto-rotation, and can therefore offer severely short low speed landings after an engine-out. Your crystal ball predictions for GA rang several bells here! Our goal is to advance the state of the art to a stage where BRAG designs can be developed commercially in a range of applications. During this phase we are operating as a not-for-profit organisation using volunteers from around the world to further the work."
posted at 10:26 AM
Enters Mistral Engines: Rotary engines for Avgas, Mogas and Jetfuel...
MISTRAL Engines SA was founded in April 2001 to take over the development of a line of aviation engines based on rotary-piston engine technology (Wankel). The project was started by a Swiss aircraft and engine maintenance company in 1994, which recognised the opportunity to propose to General Aviation a resolutely new propulsion technology. Several prototype engines were built around a Mazda 13B rotary engine core, and were tested in the purpose-built facilities at the University of Applied Sciences in Fribourg, Switzerland, and on a propeller test bench at Gruyères Airfield. MISTRAL Engines is located in Geneva, Switzerland, where it operates its new test facility and develops its engines with an international development team and network of manufacturing suppliers. In addition, the company collaborates with several renowned academic and industrial partners : Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland and Hartzell Propeller Inc. to name but a few. MISTRAL Engines, LLC. located in Daytona Beach, Florida, is the company’s US subsidiary. In addition to North-American commercial, administrative and legal activities, our Florida site is also devoted to engine installations in airframes and to flight testing with our partner Embry-Riddle. Presently, Mistral engineers are fine tuning their two rotors Jet-A engine, thanks to Mistral’s powerful Digital Engine Management (DEM), allowing very accurate low level settings of the proprietary ignition and direct injection systems. Official results including Jet fuel consumption and power ranges are expected within a few weeks. Whether the Jetfuel version of this engine is a diesel cycle (compression ignition) is not clear.
Mistral claims the following Design Benefits and Highlights:
* Extremely few moving parts, resulting in high reliability and lower maintenance & overhaul costs, as well as in a greatly reduced vulnerability to catastrophic failures
* No reciprocating parts, resulting in turbine-like smoothness for better comfort, lower cabin noise and lower airframe and avionics maintenance costs
* Single-lever digital engine control for reduced pilot workload, easy starts, optimal engine settings in all flight phases and higher overall operational safety
* Liquid cooling for faster warm-ups and elimination of shock-cooling problems, giving turboprop-like operations and improved reliability and engine life
* A very compact engine, allowing improved cowling aerodynamics
* High power-to-weight ratio Engine weight comparison chart [.pdf file]
* Multi-fuel capability (mogas + avgas, Jet-A capability in development)
* Low-propeller speed, noticeably reducing noise emissions on take-off as well as in cruise
* Designed for 3,000 hour TBO, simple and comparatively cheap overhaul
* Low maintenance and general operating costs
* Easy to install as it bolts onto standard Dynafocal or bed-type engine mounts
Accomodates hydraulic constant-speed propellers.
On their website Mistral publishes comparative curves of power/weight ratios according to existing families of engines and technologies which are most interesting. According to them, the heaviest engine would be the Thielert 135HP. SMA comes second, being comparable to 6 cyl. Turbo Lycomings in power/weight ratio. The Mistral rotary engines appear as lighter for powers exceeding 200 HP. The curves confirm what we said earlier: 4-stroke diesel power/weight ratio improves with absolute power, especially above 300 HP. 2-stroke is bound to be lighter.
posted at 10:12 AM
Diamond DA40 diesel certified in Europe with G1000
Diamond Aircraft Industries announced on Monday that the European Aviation Safety Agency has certified its single-engine diesel-powered DA40 TDI Diamond Star with the G1000 glass cockpit. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Diamond Aircraft Pilots and Owners Organization (DAPO) will host its First Annual Southwest Fly-In on Oct. 29 at Double Eagle II Airport in Albuquerque, N.M. Seminars will be held on Diamond aircraft maintenance, Southwest mountain flying, and G1000 cockpit tips, tricks, and shortcuts. Diamond aircraft will be on display, and on Saturday. The event is free. For more information, contact Lance Dietz, head of DAPO, at (727) 858-0798. For aircraft parking and fueling needs, contact West Mesa Aviation at (505) 831-2359. LMT Aviation will serve "free $100 hamburgers" for lunch.
posted at 10:03 AM
News of October 12, 2005
AD Affects Aftermarket Rods In 2,800 Lycoming Engines... How come?
Facts: The FAA has issued an Airworthiness Directive AD on a certain make of connecting rod found in about 2,800 Lycoming 360- and 540-series engines in service in the U.S. The AD covers engines that have had certain ECi connecting rods installed as part of a repair or overhaul. The FAA determined that the connecting rods covered by the AD have deficiencies in the journal bores that can cause fatigue and/or bearing failure, which can result in "uncommanded shutdown" of the engine. (I love the expression...) Offending rods that have seen more than 1,500 hours of service have to be replaced within 50 hours and the others must be replaced before reaching 1,500 hours. The engines have been installed in dozens of certified and experimental aircraft. The repairs, according to the FAA's math, will cost about $700 per engine (we think it could be a lot more) and ECi has said it might give credit for returned connecting rods. Another AD affecting crankshafts in 1,128 engines in the same families takes effect on Oct. 21. The repair cost on those engines is estimated at more than $16,000 but Lycoming has said it will supply the parts for free. Avweb Newswire, 10/6/05.
Comments: One of the curses on US manufacturing of aircraft engines, parts and complex systems (Lycoming is only one case among others) is that the stock market driven strategies (meaning Next Quarterly driven to beef up CEOs Stock Options) favors misunderstood cost cutting thanks to elimination of so-called fixed costs in favor of so-called "variable costs": Let us outsource manufacturing instead of doing it in-house; let us get rid of all these blue collar and white collar workers and (often) concentrate on taking advantage of the ones left by appropriating their pension funds.
Why are they called "fixed costs"? Because in-house manufacturing is a guarantee of fixed quality. Ask Caterpillar, who never followed the trend and always won against powerful Japanese competition. "Variable costs", on the contrary means of course "variable quality". A manufacturers assets are his skilled, loyal employees. Once they walk out of the door, gone are your competitive davantages based on these skills, plus team work, plus memory and good will to transfer skills to the next ones.
Diesel manufacturers, notably Thielert and SMA, are fully integrated. Let's hope they stay that way...
posted at 4:49 AM
News of October 05, 2005
Why DeltaHawk Diesel Engines, Inc. will be a serious competitor.
DeltaHawk Diesel Engines, Inc. (DeltaHawk) was incorporated by Doug and Diane Doers in 1995 in Racine, Wisconsin to develop a family of V-4, 2-stroke, glycol/water-cooled aero-diesels initially for the experimental and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV/UVS) market, and later for the certified market. Financing came from private placements, from loans from Racine County and from the State of Wisconsin, plus some NASA development grants for some work in composite materials applied to diesel engines. CEO is Ms. Diane Doers. So far, total investment amounted to close to $ 10 million, showing that there are serious investors in the US who believe that there is a future in new engines for General Aviation and that this future is diesel. Carl Bumpurs, Sales Manager (+1-262-634-9660) agrees that the diesel future is for powers up to 400HP. Their ambitions are in the 160 to 400 HP range. Carl agrees that there is also a big potential in the 100HP range, notably for Light Sport Aircraft (LSA)s and UAVs. They decided not to pursue it since other competition is potentially very active in that segment. Presently DeltaHawk offers 160, 180 and 200 HP (available at prices from $23,500 to 29,500, prices including starter, supercharger, oil pump, fuel pump, water pump, all engine-to-engine lines, turbo charger, and the engine-to-turbocharger exhaust system, visit http://www.deltahawkengines.com/object00.shtml). Presently development is in progress for V-8s from 300 to 420 HP. Carl agrees that, in the longer term, it is in that range of power that the big GA diesel market will be in the US.
DeltaHawk short term source of revenue is the UAV market. 6 UAV applications have been sold with success and Carl is expecting a strong business development on this market within next 6 months. Thanks to that market the business doesn’t face financial hurdles. Also, around 10 engines have been supplied to partners developing applications (STCs and OEMs), and the present backlog is of 40 engines. The most advanced demonstration is a Velocity RG 160HP prototype flying since May 03, reaching 176 Knots and 14,700 feet. Carl expects, based on recent orders, that 12 Velocitys will be flying by late 2006.
FAA engine certification is in progress, and expected to be completed in 2007. STCs for various conversions which are in progress or envisioned soon are:
Cessna 172: STC is expected more or less at same time than engine certification. As experimentals, first planes to fly should be in early ’06.
Piper Comanche, Mooney, Cherokee family: sustained interest for STCs.
Cessna Skymaster: It is an obvious STC candidate, but no interest has been expressed yet.
American Champion and Zenith Aircraft (CH801): will be testing an airframe in 2006.
RV7: Development is advanced, will be available either for conversion or OEM in early 06.
Later, interest has been expressed from Tiger Aircraft for an OEM application, once type certificate will be secured.
DeltaHawk engines are manufactured by Kurt Manufacturing Company in Minneapolis, MN. Kurt is a fully integrated jobber, supplying die cast machined components and parts for engines, pumps, fluid power, etc. to such firms as Lycoming, Honeywell, Boeing, General Dynamics, General Motors and Schlumberger. Kurt has a significant vested interest in DeltaHawk, and has been very supportive since their involvement in 2003.
Comparing with other diesels: Carl is certain that they will consistently have a weight advantage because of the 2-stroke design. He expects, for a typical conversion in the 180HP range (Piper PA-28) that they will come out some 10-15 Lbs heavier than a Lycoming O-360 180HP installation, instead of 30-60 Lbs heavier; and this advantage will grow with experience, power and time. Also, a 2-stroke system has only half the magnitude of high torque pulses observed on a 4-stroke diesel, a big issue for propeller behavior. Carl says that this is the reason why SMA and Thielert propose conversions using composite propellers, whereas they will be using conventional metal propellers. They expect approval for aluminum constant speed props by late 2005. Finally their design, again because of 2-stroke and direct propeller drive combined, translates into less parts than any competitor, (and much, much less than any Avgas engine) meaning simplicity, reliability, and low easy maintenance.
Comments: They are the only serious US competitor, and they have revenue right now from the UAV market. They seem the best positioned on the Experimental market because they offer 160 to 200HP right in the heart of this market, while Thielert offers too small or too big, and SMA offers only 230HP; and the Experimetal market is a US market first. The biggest problem when developing a new engine is that monthly expenses are there, and growing with applications development, while potential revenues keep being postponed in an uncertain figure. The only sure thing today is that diesel is coming; but exactly how fast, through which most short term scenario, and how big are the three questions impossible to address to the stockholder’s satisfaction (unless they ask DieselAir of course, since our own market forecast has been correct so far…). Also the two European competitors have one advantage: The market is in full development right now in Europe, and in several other countries where they have access. It is going to be an interesting arena.
To find out more, visit http://www.deltahawkengines.com/ This summarizes my October 3, ‘05 interview of Carl Bumpurs, DeltaHawk’s Sales Manager, with my thanks..
posted at 4:38 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.