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 January 29, 2009
Austro Engine A300 substitute to Thielert is EASA certified now.
The European Aviation Safety Agency has just approved the use of the Austro Engines AE300 turbodiesel engine for use in Part 23 certified aircraft. Listed on the EASA documents as the ‘Diamond Aircraft Industries E4 series’ - Austro is closely tied to the plane maker - the AE300 is rated at 166 hp takeoff power at 3880 rpm, with maximum continuous horsepower of 152 hp at 3550 rpm. As certified, the engine weighs around 408 lbs. Conceived as a replacement for the Thielert Centurion series 1.7-liter and 2.0-liter engines previously offered in the DA40 and DA42 Twin Star, the AE300 uses the same Mercedes-Benz-sourced engine block as the Thielert engine, but with lighter top end components. The engine sports a clutch-less gear box, a cast-iron crankcase, integral oil-coolant heat exchanger and improved turbocharger air induction and cooling systems. Diamond told Aero-News that the certification program of the E4 engine lasted 42 months and cost 48 million euro (about $63.5 million US.) ‘The complete program developed into one that was significantly more complex than originally anticipated,’ said Diamond Aircraft CEO Christian Dries, who is also part of the Executive Management Team of Austro Engine GmbH. ‘Only the full dedication of all participants, specifically the Austrian and European Airworthiness Authorities, MB Tech, Bosch General Aviation Technologies and our employees, enabled the successful conclusion of the certification process.’ Austro had targeted a 26% increase in takeoff power over the 135 hp Thielert Centurion 2.0, a goal the current AE 300, as certified, fell just short of achieving. More importantly to Diamond, however, is the fact availability of the AE 300 gives the plane maker a diesel alternative to the troubled Thielert program. Diamond took it on the chin in 2008 with highly-publicized problems at Thielert, now under insolvency proceedings in Germany. While the plane maker says the situation has since improved, things are far from ideal on the Thielert front... and Diamond has since introduced a more powerful, though far more thirsty, avgas-powered IO360-equipped DA42 in an effort to keep the line going. Diamond states there are already 27 Diamond DA42 NG with AE300 engines on the production line, with type certification on those frames expected ‘imminently.’ The plane maker also plans to offer AE300-powered versions of the DA40 Diamond Star and the DA50 SuperStar, as well as the DA42-based Multi-Purpose Platform aircraft. Diamond is also actively encouraging owners of Thielert-equipped aircraft to swap out those engines for Austro diesels. A swap-in AE300 variant is under development. FAA certification for the AE300 is expected this year. (Aero-News 1/28/09)
DieselAir Comments: We bring attention on the very informative mention of a cost of development towards certification: We always assessed it to a minimum of 50 million dollars based on figures of 2005. Here we read some 63 million, only to obtain the European certification. Because of present reciprocity agreements between FAA and EASA one could expect the FAA certification to be easier. However, we also expect the FAA, having been burned once with Thielert, to be as conservative as possible before the A300 is certified. - The weight of 408 Lbs for 152 HP sounds heavy. However, what matters is the final weight once the engine is fitted on the plane and STCd for that plane. We have seen good and bad surprises. Anyway we expect that, once mounted, the A300 will come out a bit heavier than the Thielert.
posted at 3:14 AM
Diamond sends good news regarding the Austro A300 engine and the relationship with Thielert.
In a letter sent to customers December 8, Diamond Aircraft president Peter Maurer told owners of DA42 Twin Star aircraft about Diamond working on a ‘workable plan’ to assist owners affected by this year's troubles and subsequent insolvency at Thielert Aircraft Engines GmbH. While Diamond still encourages owners to upgrade their Thielert-equipped Twin Stars to one of two engine options -- Lycoming IO-360 avgas-fueled powerplants, or sticking with diesel power by retrofitting the Austro AE300 engine still in development -- Maurer said things aren't as dire for owners of planes equipped with Thielert diesels as they were this summer. ‘In our view, the overall situation has improved and is continuing to improve significantly from rock bottom in May / June of this year, when there was only extreme uncertainty regarding the future of TAE,’ Maurer writes. ‘Despite the difficult limitations imposed by the insolvency, TAE is genuinely working on improving their support, reducing the operating cost, and increasing the reliability of both the 1.7 and 2.0 liter engines. The insolvency administrator also has stated that potential investors / purchasers of TAE will need to demonstrate a continued dedication to the civilian market so this, too, is encouraging for the long term future of TAE and the support of the existing fleet. In general, Thielert costs have come down considerably from those anticipated and discussed immediately after the insolvency. With the anticipated 1,200 hour inspection approval for the 2.0 liter engine, the additional cost to operate the 2.0 liter engine will be only $9.82 more per hour than before the insolvency,’ he says. ‘To put this into perspective, for an aircraft in a flight training operation at a rental rate of $300/hour, this would amount to a rental rate increase of just 6% to cover the additional cost, making the TAE 2.0 liter aircraft a viable proposition again.’ Owners of Twin Stars equipped with the earlier 1.7 liter engines, however, aren't necessarily as fortunate. ‘The loss of warranty has had a potentially significant financial impact only on those customers who experience serious service difficulties, such as broken piston cooling nozzles or cracked cylinder heads, on the 1.7 liter engines,’ Maurer writes, but adds ‘...In summary a customer who was potentially facing replacement of both engines with factory new 2.0 liter engines because of a single broken cooling nozzles, now has other options available to return their aircraft to service for a fraction of the originally anticipated cost’ -- largely through increased availability of needed parts that preclude outright replacement of the engines. Maurer adds Diamond has also resumed deliveries of new Thielert 2.0 liter-equipped planes to ‘specific’ customers, though all future Twin Stars will be equipped with either Austro or Lycoming power. That said, Diamond encourages owners who wish to stick with Thielert power to upgrade to the newer, more reliable 2.0 liter powerplants -- and is offering owners free airframe parts to accommodate the overhaul. ‘It is clear that there isn't a single solution that will work for everyone and that each owner's situation is different, depending on how the aircraft is used, whether it has 1.7 liter or 2.0 liter engines, how many hours are on it and if it is AOG and for what reason,’ Maurer said. ‘Accordingly, we will call every individual owner in North America starting this week, focusing initially on the known AOG cases, to discuss with you the best short term actions and our recommendations to minimize your expense and inconvenience.’ It's also clear the 34-page customer message was intended to, above all, placate existing DA42 owners who fear their planes may soon become AOG -- if they haven't already -- by reassuring them service options still exist for their Thielert-powered Twin Stars... but Diamond clearly still hopes existing Twin Star owners will invest in either the Austro Engines or Lycoming upgrades. ‘Customers who invest in [a]... retrofit should expect instant equity in their planes, along with a better airplane,’ Maurer says. ‘A new DA42 L360 is priced at USD 599,500. A new DA42 NG with AE 300 engines is priced at EUR 488,000 (USD 619,760 at current exchange rate),’ Maurer notes. ‘Both of these values are higher than that for a DA42 TDI.’ (Aero-News 12/15/08)
posted at 12:58 AM
News of January 18, 2009
DeltaHawk Engines Responds to ExxonMobil Aviation Announcement on Diesel Aircraft Engines
Racine, WI – 12/03/2008 -- DeltaHawk Engines, Inc. joins Diamond Aircraft (AVWebBiz November 26th) in responding to ExxonMobil Aviation’s position regarding use of jet fuel in piston powered diesel engines (Aero-News.Net Propwash November 24th). ExxonMobil is correct in stating that the FAA is working on this matter. Indeed, all three technical issues raised by ExxonMobil are already specifically included as analysis and test items during the diesel engine FAA Type Certification process. All three are readily-addressed issues for any diesel engine appropriately engineered for aviation use and being certified and distributed under current aviation safety standards. They will also be a part of the high altitude Technical Readiness Level (TRL) testing to be done with the DeltaHawk engine by the U.S. Navy.
Freezing Point. Many jet fueled aircraft which do not fly at “speeds that cause heating of the fuel in the wing due to friction caused by airflow” have been operating safely for years. The Beech King Air aircraft is one example, along with the many turboprop conversions of piston aircraft. Even those aircraft which do fly at high Mach speeds may also have active fuel heating systems. The use of a fuel additive such as PRIST® Hi-Flash™ is also common. So, DeltaHawk-powered diesel aircraft will address this issue in the same way used by all aircraft today: published operating limitations plus fuel heating systems in specific aircraft installations to extend operating limits. The DeltaHawk diesel engine is ideally suited for use in such installations by virtue of our built-in heated fuel recirculation and engine liquid cooling systems.
Lubricity. Fuel lubricity is an issue only if you use the fuel as a lubricant for your fuel pumps. The DeltaHawk diesel engine fuel pump and injectors do not. All testing to date has been done with jet fuel, and the Type Certification test plan will document the engine’s ability to operate satisfactorily with worst case fuel lubricity. As evidence that lubricity is not an issue, Jet A has been used in airport ground support equipment diesel engines for many years with no problems. DeltaHawk plans to certify use of multiple fuels, and we anticipate that #1 road diesel will actually produce the worst case lubricity case due to its tighter sulfur specs.
Ignition Quality. The lack of a cetane specification in jet fuel is the one truly unique technical issue for jet fuel powered aircraft diesels. Difficult cold weather starting is the primary effect of extraordinarily low cetane on diesel engines, but once running, the engine will perform within normal engine limits. This is not a safety of flight issue. Further, DeltaHawk engines were specifically designed to handle low cetane levels, and the DeltaHawk FAA Type Certification program will test and document engine performance with worst case cetane fuel.
DeltaHawk CEO Diane Doers echoes Diamond CEO Peter Mauer’s AVWebBiz article sentiments and adds “We wonder what ‘extensive technical review’ could have been conducted by ExxonMobil without extensive technical discussions with either Diamond or DeltaHawk. It seems that broad generalizations have been relied upon, when specific dialogues could have provided reassurance that the issues were being appropriately addressed,” said Ms. Doers. “Diesel engines for aircraft bring significant benefits by reducing both usage of leaded fuel and total fuel consumption. They also will improve safety, especially in areas of the world where on spec 100LL is not available. In a time when bottom line costs and becoming ‘green’ are ever more important, DeltaHawk’s innovative engines are in demand worldwide for both general aviation and military applications. Diesel power will be an important contributor to a vibrant, cost-effective aviation industry. We look forward to working with ExxonMobil for the good of our mutual customers.”
DeltaHawk Engines, Inc., a Wisconsin corporation, is designing and building a family of direct drive liquid-cooled diesel cycle aviation engines from 100 to 650 hp. Four-cylinder engine models (160-200 hp) are in pre-production and higher horsepower models are in development. The engines are designed to use commercial jet fuels (Jet A, Jet A-1), military diesel fuels (JP-5, JP-8) or commercial diesel fuels (including biodiesel and synthetics). Type Certification of the first model is expected in 2009. DeltaHawk’s innovative light-weight fuel-efficient engines, providing turbine-like reliability at a fraction of the cost, will lead to a “green” future for general aviation. Contact: Diane E. Doers, CEO, tel: +1-262-634-9660, firstname.lastname@example.org www.deltahawkengines.com
posted at 12:25 AM
News of January 07, 2009
Thielert Aircraft Engines, the biggest manufacturer of aero diesels, accomplishes turnaround
The insolvency administrator of aircraft engine manufacturer 'Thielert Aircraft Engines GmbH' (TAE), Bruno M. Kuebler, struck a positive balance for the year 2008. After filing for insolvency in April 2008, the company has accomplished a turnaround and is now back in the black. Additionally, despite insolvency, Kuebler did not have to dismiss a single employee. 'The fact that TAE was able to make it back into the profit zone again without any staff cuts is especially gratifying, particularly in these financially difficult times', emphasized Kuebler. Kuebler continues to negotiate with potential investors. 'Negotiations are progressing with all deliberate speed. New prospective investors have come forward during the past few weeks, so it will still take some time to wind up the negotiations.' The prospective investors are predominantly from the aviation industry and include two defense contractors. According to Kuebler, it is especially important for the latter that TAE is able to develop new military applications for the engines and obtain the necessary certifications as quickly as possible. Kuebler stressed that he is not pressed for time with regard to the negotiations and that it is important to him that the prospective investors offer a sustained solution for the company. Since last October, technical advances with regard to the engines have made it possible to reduce prices for spare parts and servicing again. Moreover, the company was able to extend intervals for servicing of parts subject to regular wear and tear. 'Being able to present this first intermediate result to customers was very important', explained internationally renowned engine expert Prof. Guenter Kappler, who was recruited by Kuebler and functions as the accountable manager in relationship to aviation authorities. 'We know that we must continue to cut operating expenses and are striving intensely to make the engines even more efficient', reports Kappler. Although production faltered briefly after the start of insolvency, TAE is now working to capacity again and supplies engines and parts worldwide to customers in the general aviation sector as well as engines for reconnaissance drones. Thielert Aircraft Engines GmbH is the leading provider of certified kerosene piston aircraft engines for general aviation. As a certified development, manufacturing and maintenance aviation enterprise, the company was the first in the world to be approved for a kerosene piston engine.
posted at 8:58 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.