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 November 25, 2007
If the Adam 500 twin was a diesel
I like the Adam 500 (see Flying Magazine December 07 test flight and www.adamaircraft.com): It is a well streamlined push-pull twin applying the Burt Rutan aerodynamics recipes, as easy to control as a single engine. In a test flight report in the British Todays Pilot Magazine, the author reports having the co-pilot shutting off one engine without the pilot even noticing it! It supports well my theory that a diesel twin of twice 350HP, and 500HP one day, has a long term future. Here is why.
It is capable of 220 knots cruise at 22,000 feet with a fuel flow of 44 gallons/hour. It has two Continental 550 TSIO of 350 HP with a TBO of, hopefully, 1,600 hours. It carries 230 gallons of AvGas. It is pressurized. It comes as a good example to explain what diesel can do to an already performing plane. It is priced at $1,25 million with standard equipment. However, I note that with full tanks its payload is only 450 Lbs because of its net weight of 5,350 Lbs.
With Thielert V8 350HP diesels, the speed performance would probably remain the same at same altitude than with an O-550 turbo of same power. I estimate the net weight to be 100 Lbs lighter based on another experience of replacement of an O-550 by this V8. The long range at cruise speed of 200 knots would go from 1,286 to 1,718NM, and to 2,400NM at 180 knots. If an emergency forbade landing and requested to stay in the air on low fuel, the fuel flow could go down to some 7 gallons per hour at 120 knots. The TBO would go up to at least 2,400 hours, and 3,000 in the foreseeable future.
The flying time and fuel cost of a transatlantic flight consisting in a flight with 2 on board plus luggage, from the US East Coast to Europe in 3 legs, say, to the French Riviera, Jersey Island, or Corsica, or a local airport near a business facility in Germany, or other destination that makes sense for a private plane, and back, 9,200 NM at 185 knots, with a fuel flow of 17 gallons/hour of JetA and an average fuel cost of $4/gallon along the road, would be around 50 hours, at a cost of less than $2,000. Exact flying time on each way would of course depend of route and prevailing winds. I would recommend making a week end stop in the Azores or in Iceland, depending on season. I estimate the total cost per trip, including amortization costs based on 600 hours/year total flying time, plus travel overheads such as hospitality, landing fees, etc., at some $5,000 or 2,500 per head. This without taking into account yet any tax benefit derived from plane ownership. That kind of expense cannot be called 'jet-setting'.
Such a trip is not practical with the AvGas version of this plane: the much shorter range will require more legs, and, with AvGas at $8/gallon in Europe, the variable costs become unrealistic. Better fly regular airlines in first class.
A natural objection will be that a SOCATA TBM 850 will accomplish such a mission at 300 knots, also burning Jet A. However the combined amortization, maintenance and fuel costs fit with a completely different kind of wallet.
posted at 8:27 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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