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.
To know more, send a confidential email inquiry to Dr. Eng. André Teissier-duCros at firstname.lastname@example.org
or an SMS for a confidential phone conversation at
News of July 27, 2007
Powerplant Developments in UK unveils the Gemini 100HP Opposite Piston 2-stroke Diesel, aims at LSA market
Powerplant Developments, a UK company, in a joint development effort with Weslake Air Services and Jade Air, an engine remanufacturing shop, unveiled plans at AirVenture 2007 to produce a diesel engine for the LSA market. Tim Archer, ex from Superior Engines, President of Powerplant Developments, said the company has been working nonstop over the last seven months to make their idea a reality. Weslake Engineering is known for engineering Formula 1 racing engines, and recently expanded to help build the Gemini engine. Jade Air, which has been around since the 1970s, specializes in engine overhaul, repair, and engineering consulting. Derek Graham, Chairman and Co-founder of Powerplant Developments, believes that Europe has been forced to lead in diesel engines because of fuel prices, and the US will be soon to follow. "The LSA category represents the future of this industry," Graham explains. LSA manufacturers consulting with Powerplant Developments desired an engine capable of 100 horsepower and weighing 150 pounds. Fuel efficiency was a big concern, as well as fuel availability.
The answer lay in a diesel engine that most had forgotten. As Graham says, "I founded my business on the basis of identifying a market need and satisfying a market need." A lighter engine for the LSA market was the change most LSA manufacturers desired, so the company began to work on concepts for such an engine. Michael Daniel, head of R&D for Powerplant Developments, had the idea to resurrect a somewhat unconventional engine that Graham says "simply fell off the radar." Powerplant Developments Gemini 100 is an Opposite Piston supercharged 1.6 liter three cylinder that produces 100 horsepower and weighs a scant 150 pounds. The two-stroke engine has no cylinder heads, valves, rockers, pushrods or camshafts, simplifying design and making the engine extremely maintenance-friendly. The Gemini is supercharged because their design requires forced induction to operate. Since the supercharger saps 30 horsepower (the engine can actually produce 130 horsepower), plans are to eventually upgrade to a turbocharger which would only require five horsepower to run. The fuel efficiency of the diesel is what essentially motivated Powerplant Developments, and the Gemini 100, at 75% power at 5,000 feet, consumes 4.75 gallons per our of Jet-A compared to 6.6 gallons per hour of Avgas for a Rotax 912. Since the engine employs dual crankshafts as well as some other non-conventional aspects, introducing a training program for this engine will be a priority for the company.
The Gemini 100 sports two pistons in each of its three cylinders; the pistons fire toward each other, the mixture combusts, and they are driven away. Graham notes the technology originally appeared on Lufthansa aircraft in the 1930s, but was abandoned in favor of the turbine engine, though no one had considered its potential as a lightweight engine. Currently Powerplant Designs is researching a DVD training program, but as the maintenance schedule is small, and the engine is designed for a 2000 hour TBO, the transition should be relatively simple. The first Gemini 100 engines will be available to the experimental market in mid 2008, and the engine will be ASTM certified after that. The prototype engines will fly by fall 2007. Cost? "How much will it cost or how much will I sell it for?" says Graham with a laugh. Plans are to offer the Gemini 100 for around $18,500, or about 10% more than the popular Rotax in most LSAs. The Gemini is smaller in every dimension than the Rotax it will compete with. It will allow manufacturers more freedom in shaping the cowling of their aircraft and designing engine cooling into the airframe. Current studies by Powerplant Designs have shown that the Gemini Engines could be designed up to a staggering 600 horsepower.
Tim Archer is former Superior Air Parts Executive. "Having someone with Tim’s reputation, integrity and experience leading our team certainly puts us way ahead in many of our certification and marketing efforts," Derek Graham, Chairman and Co-Founder of PPD said. "Tim helped take his last company from just a PMA parts supplier to becoming a certified engine manufacturer. I can’t tell you what that experience will mean to our efforts to bring the new Gemini Engine to market." "I am extremely excited to have this opportunity," Archer said. "It's not often in life where you get a chance to live your dream -- and that's just what Powerplant Developments is giving me the chance to do. I'm going to be part of a team that is going to do something that will truly impact the way people use private airplanes for recreation and business," Archer continued. "Not just in America and Europe, but around the world." Before being named Superior's President and CEO, Archer had held a variety of positions in the company and was a long time TCM executive. (Aero-News Network 7/25/07, DieselAir research)
DieselAir Comment: The Gemini is obviously a pursuit of the British D-Air project: A scaled down Junkers Jumo diesel 2-stroke Opposite-Piston engine, which has been flying for many years on a Luscombe demonstrator. Latest news is that the D 100 project has been acquired by US firm Fabritech, Inc. in East Alton, IL. The Junkers Jumo of 600HP, designed in the early thirties, still holds the world record for specific fuel consumption for aero engines. A diesel for Light Sport Planes? If the price of the engine is comparable to the equivalent gasoline engine and if the engine does demonstrate a higher reliability, then the advantage of increased range will be very attractive. We can expect an impact of the Gemini engine on the US market by 2010, when the engine will be certified, and STCs for a few major LSA designs are secured.
posted at 11:41 AM
News of July 18, 2007
Diamond claims it will build their own GA diesel engine!
Diamond Aircraft Industries (DAI) in collaboration with Austro Engine GmbH (both headquartered in Wiener Neustadt, Austria) and other distinguished partners including Mercedes Benz Technology (MB-Tech, Germany) has introduced a 170 HP Turbo Diesel Engine with a maximum torque of 570Nm. The engine has made its initial test flight in a DA40 Diamond Star. Diamond Aircraft Industries CEO Christian Dries and Sören Pedersen, DAI’s Managing Test Pilot were both enthusiastic after carrying out the maiden flight together. The engine shows high performance and is economical at the same time. Compared to conventional engines, the implementation of combustion technology developed by MB Tech has lowered the overall fuel consumption by 20% while keeping identical performance, according to a DAI press release. “As the worlds’ biggest manufacturer of aircraft with diesel engines, it was obvious that Diamond Aircraft Industries would strive to perfect the new generation of JetA1 GA engines for serial production”, a company spokesman said. (Aeromarkt 7/16/07)
DieselAir Comment: The information on this new diesel aero engine is remarkably vague. 20% fuel savings on a conventional engine? Meaning a gasoline engine? That would not be exceptional. On a diesel engine such as the Thielert? Now, that would indeed be a breakthrough. What is the net weight of the DA 40 with said engine? Our impression is that this is another case of an automobile engine installed on an airplane. Several experimentals and prototypes are trying this with various European automobile diesels modified to fit in a plane. The result tends to be on the heavy side, the new plane showing an increased weight and the engine with ancillaries showing a higher weight per HP. Which does not prevent the plane from flying! Getting an engine certification and then an STC is another story. Besides, Diamond and Thielert have been very successful together and are leading the aero-diesel market: Does this mean that anyone considering buying a Diamond diesel should hold back his purchase order and wait for the Austro Engine to be certified? When? We tried to reach Diamond Air for clarification but had no answer yet. We understood that Austro Engine GmbH is a subsidiary of Diamond Aircraft. More on this later.
posted at 5:12 AM
DieselAir calling all Subscribers: Preparing a survey on Quality & Service problems incurred on diesel aircraft
Now that several hundred diesel-equipped aircraft are flying in the world, we are regularly receiving information and reports expressing satisfaction and even enthusiasm from pilots and owners, also on incidents and breakdowns. So far, none of them put in question the principle of using a diesel engine, quite the contrary. Some can be attributed to the inevitable minor bugs as in every brand new piece of equipment; some, to the aircraft/engine interface (heat exchanger, coolant…) which can be corrected through minor ADs. We are preparing a special report that gives an overall view of where the recurring problems concentrate. We need now some recent information concentrating on incidents and on experienced deficiencies in customer service. Please send us an email on your own experience. When experiencing a breakdown, please let us know the aircraft model and serial number and the date of the incident. Thank you in advance!
posted at 4:52 AM
News of July 01, 2007
Cessna Announces Collaboration With Thielert On Aero Diesels
This is only the beginning, but this is it: Cessna is definitely planning to go diesel. Cessna Aircraft Company announced it has reached agreement with German manufacturer Thielert Aircraft Engines GmbH (TAE) to collaborate on future programs centered on the Thielert diesel engine. "We think the Thielert engine may provide a very worthwhile power option for many of our customers since it runs on jet fuel and diesel," said Cessna Vice President, Worldwide Propeller Aircraft Sales John Doman. "We have had discussions with Frank Thielert and his group for some time, and we think the time is right to move forward." Thielert has won several European certifications since 2002 for retrofitting diesel engines into Cessna aircraft. As ANN reported, a supplemental type certificate (STC) for retrofitting the Cessna 172 was granted in March 2007 by the US Federal Aviation Administration. Thielert already offers Centurion diesel powerplants for new Cessna 172s, installed by Arlington, TX-based Van Bortel Aircraft. Van Bortel replaces the conventional engines in new planes, with Cessna's support. Over the upcoming years Thielert expects thousands of engine deliveries. This announcement is a significant step forward in the relationship between the two companies, established through a framework agreement dated 2004. Based on unit sales, Cessna Aircraft Company is the world largest manufacturer of general aviation airplanes. In 2006, Cessna delivered 1,239 aircraft, including 409 Cessna 172 Skyhawk piston aircraft, and reported revenues of about $4.2 billion and a backlog of $8.5 billion. Since the company was originally established in 1927, more than 189,000 Cessna airplanes have been delivered to nearly every country in the world. The global fleet of about 40,000 Cessna 172 is the largest fleet of piston aircraft in the world. With a diesel conversion, any aircraft becomes a new aircraft because of extended performance and safety. This is especially true of the sound and reliable 172, which, with modern avionics and auto-pilot, will now become a minimal but true long range IFR airplane. We can expect, however, that a Thielert of more than 135 HP will soon be offered... The first programme is likely to be the 135hp (100kW) Centurion but with the 2.0 liter version. The engine is already available as a retrofit on the piston single type, but the venture is the first time Cessna will offer a diesel version as standard. The TAE 260kW Centurion 4.0 diesel powerplant is offered for retrofit on the Cessna 206 Stationair, but has not been STCd in the US yet; and the company is developing an engine to power the Cessna out-of-production 340 and 421 piston twins. Should we expect that Cessna will be back on the market of new piston engine twins?
posted at 7:54 AM
Diesel guru Mark Wilksch joins Continental
After a split with the UK company that continues to develop the WAM-120 diesel aero engine, and a brief sojourn in his native Australia, designer Mark Wilksch has reappeared on the general aviation scene with his appointment as director of new engine development at Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM). Although it is associated with 'traditional' aero engines, TCM was working on its own aircraft diesel engine some years ago. It's easy to speculate that Wilksch, whose WAM-120 was very much a 'clean sheet of paper' design, may have been brought in to set some kind of diesel programme back in motion at the US giant, which is based in Mobile, Alabama. (Flyer.co.uk, 5/31/07)
DieselAir comment: We can assume that Continental is initiating a new diesel design and have no doubt that Mark Wilksch can help them. It will be a long term project. Meanwhile it confirms the coming of the aero diesel age.
posted at 7:39 AM
A demonstration of diesel efficiency at low speed....
Diamond Air news: The DA52-VII twin diesel is avai...
The Cirrus SR2XDH DeltaHawk diesel seems attractiv...
OPOC diesel engine development is progressing, but...
Surprise: Two Cessna 206 (models G and H) equipped...
Test of the EPS V8 aero diesel proves that it is v...
DA42 Fly By Wire progress: A big step towards a gi...
Peter Fines’ report on his home-built Jodel Mascar...
We wish that 2013 will bring you many good surpris...
Letter from Sweden on operating a Cessna 172 Thiel...
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.