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 May 31, 2010
155 HP Centurion 2.0s installation now certified for Cessna 172
Centurion Engines informs us that it has received the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for the installation of the Centurion 2.0s kerosene piston aircraft engine with 155 HP in the Cessna 172. On May 21, 2010, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued the STC. Centurion is the firm which took over the insolvent Thielert Aircraft Engines GmbH a year ago. This means that the Cessna models 172 F to S are now certified. Demo flights with the 155 HP diesel Cessna at clubs and fly-ins have met with a positive response. The initial retrofitted customer aircraft will go to England and Switzerland in June 2010. The certification of the 155 HP versions of the Robin DR400 Ecoflyer and Diamond DA40 TDI is in motion. The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is the top-selling light aircraft in general aviation. The worldwide fleet consists of more than 40,000 aircraft. The Centurion 2.0s delivers 20HP more than the well established Centurion 2.0 with an identical weight. 'Everyone who was impressed by the flight performance of the Cessna 172 with the Centurion 2.0 will be enthusiastic about the Centurion 2.0s,' says Jasper M. Wolffson, CEO at Centurion. The aircraft offers impressive flight performance. On the Cessna 172 S, it was possible to increase the MTOW limit from 1,111 kg (2,444 Lbs.) to 1,157 kg (2,545 Lbs.). Cruising flight fuel consumption is 24.2 l/h (6.5 Gal./h) at a speed of 115 KTAS (at 70% power, 6000 ft). The climb rate is 708 ft/min at sea level, with a shorter takeoff distance of 493m (1,645 ft. for a 50 ft obstacle).The range with the 168.8 liter standard tank is 665 NM. Like all aircraft equipped with the Centurion engine the Cessna has a fully electronic engine and propeller control system with single-lever control. The first demo flights of the Centurion-Cessna at clubs and fly-ins have met with a positive response in Germany and Denmark. “Quiet, simple and, above all, very powerful” was the concordant summary of the pilots, who already had the opportunity to fly the Cessna 172. Additional demos during the season are planned in the Czech Republic, France, England and then again in Germany. The first retrofitted customer aircraft will go to the Isle of Wight, England and Switzerland at the beginning of June. Cessna 172 aircraft which have been retrofitted with Centurion engines can also be operated in countries with low avgas availability. In summer, the first Cessnas will be retrofitted with Centurion 2.0s for Ethiopia.
In addition, Centurion has further plans for the Centurion 2.0s. The certification of the 155 HP versions of the Robin DR400 and Diamond DA40 TDI has already been set in motion. In particular, the Robin certification process by Finch Aviation is at an advanced stage and only requires final measurement flights. It will then enter series production as the Robin Ecoflyer DR400 2.0s. The state-of-the-art Centurion 2.0s kerosene engine, in combination with the traditional and proven wooden design of the DR400, results in an aircraft with excellent flight characteristics. It will be suitable for towing operations once the appropriate certification has been obtained. The scope of the Supplemental Type Certificate includes the Robin DR400 RP, 120D, 140B, 180R and 200R series. The Centurion 2.0s will initially be installed in new aircraft.
Our comments: This is generally good news for the world of diesel. In Europe, Cessna singles and other airplanes in the 145-180HP range are mainly used as trainers. They have become simply too costly for aeroclubs to operate at present prices of Avgas. But in Africa and developing countries Avgas is vanishing. The Cessna 172 Centurion and the 182 SMA therefore are the only practical, certified small airplanes available today. Out of the 40,000 Cessna 172s produced since the type origin, we estimate that between 1,000 and 2,000 are outside the U.S., and of a suitable model and in a suitable condition to deserve a Centurion conversion. In the U. S., we expect it will take some time for the FAA and Cessna customer service to favor this retrofit; but uncertainties on Avgas future should also eventually open this much bigger retrofit market. The Robin Ecoflyer is, to our best knowledge, the only airplane sold new with the Centurion diesel as Original Equipment.
posted at 11:41 PM
News of May 14, 2010
TCM's New Diesel Project and views on Avgas future: A few questions.
Teledyne Continental (TCM) bought diesel technology already developed from an undisclosed European source who obviously is the French firm SMA Engines, and is forging ahead with its own program. The firm says it's bullish on piston-engines that burn Jet A and on May 13 in the company's Mobile skunk works, it took the wraps off the project for a group of visiting journalists. It's a 230-HP four-cylinder, four-cycle design that's readily scalable to a six-cylinder version with up to 350-HP, a power range that will clearly match TCM's products on the gasoline side. Certification of the four-banger is planned for 2011, according to TCM's Johnny Doo, with the six to follow as early as 2013. TCM, rather than developing a clean sheet engine, bought the diesel technology from a European company that has already certified it. Continental declined to name the company, but photos reveal an engine that looks suspiciously like the SMA SR305… But according to Doo, this isn't a co-branding or sales agreement, but a licensing arrangement that allows Continental to run with the project, driving the developmental line forward as it sees fit. The SR305 has proven to be a good performer and durable, but SMA hasn't pushed aggressively to sell it to either OEMs or the aftermarket. TCM will presumably address that.
Comment: This means therefore that SMA remains free to pursue its own developments, witness their improved SR305 exposed at Sun & Fun.
Doo said that TCM bought existing technology rather than clean sheet its own design primarily to speed the time to market, which the company sees as critical. Centurion (nee Thielert) SMA and Diamond have proven the diesel market and now Continental wants a piece of it. TCM's version of this engine is undergoing intensive test cell trials and is flying in a Cessna 182. Doo says Continental is aiming for a price premium only slighter higher than its avgas engines. Fuel specifics are in the .36 SFC range.
Can 94UL Replace 100LL? TCM Thinks So… Continental is moving forward with its research to pitch 94UL as a replacement for 100LL avgas, which the EPA seems serious about regulating out of existence. At the company's Mobile, Alabama test center, TCM is running detonation tests of 94UL and on Wednesday, it gave visiting journalists a preview of the project. TCM's Bill Brogdon told us on Tuesday that 94UL is essentially 100LL without the tetraethyl lead added as an octane enhancer. He says engines certified to operate of 80/87 octane—and that's a lot of engines—will have no trouble making rated power with 95UL. Similarly, says Continental, even its higher power turbocharged large displacement, low-compression ratio engines can run the lower octane. The problem engines are higher compression variants that use 8.5 to 1 compression ratios. Brogdon told us these engines may tolerate a diet of 94UL by tweaking the timing or developing affordable knock detection and variable timing. Another option, he says, is reduce compression ratio but increase displacement—re-engining with a IO-550 to replace an IO-520, for instance. Whether the owners of aircraft with these engines will nibble on that remains to be seen.
Comment: At the end of the day it means either that the same cubic capacity engine, now burning 95UL, will be less powerful than with 100LL; or that the engine of same power will be heavier. This plus some questions about behavior on turbo at high altitude. Will an aircraft owner pay to replace his engine by a lower-power one, as an alternative to giving up airworthiness? How many of them will buy that? Supposedly the ones in the US who own a recent, costly, turbocharged plane (Cirrus, Piper PA46 and the like) and do not want to lose their investment. The others, who today are not flying much anyway, will sigh and let their 35-year old plane go to scrap. The US flight academies owning a fleet of 25-35-year old 172s and PA28s will face a dilemma: At what cost a conversion to 95UL? And what will it take to decide, in that long list of conversions to 95UL, the scope of re-certifications? I would not be surprised if the phase-out of 100LL was delayed… Outside the US, we assess that the coast is clear for diesels.
In the meantime, Continental is in a consortium pushing forward with eventual ASTM approval for 94UL, at least for Continental engines. We're told (AVWeb reports) that only one company is skeptical of 94UL as a drop-in replacement for 100LL and although no one is naming names, we take that to be Lycoming. Timeline? About two years of further testing, says Brogdon, then another year or so for ASTM approval.
Comment: Lycoming’s project, says the rumor, would be a multifuel engine that has electrical ignition but can burn Jetfuel as well as various gasolines. Multifuel engines are feasible. The question with them is: At what weight per power? We are not out of the woods yet, but TCM is making a sound move. (AVWeb 5/13/10 with comments by Andre Teissier-duCros.)
posted at 1:17 AM
News of May 02, 2010
Future of leaded Avgas - DieselAir sends a worldwide inquiry to 1,120 subscribers in 66 countries.
You read these lines because you are one of 1,120 registered subscribers in 66 countries to the DieselAir Newsletter. This means that you are one of the pilots, aircraft owners, fixed-base operators or other GA professionals who have an interest in the coming of aero diesel engines for Small Piston-Engined Airplanes, singles or twins, of less than 500HP per engine, (SPEAs), and the possible phasing out of leaded 100 Octane Aviation Gasoline (regular Avgas).
Remark: By aero diesel engine, we mean a compression-ignited engine using Jetfuel instead of gasoline of any nature.
I am conducting a worldwide survey assessing how fast will leaded Avgas be phased out, what kind of unleaded Avgas may be actually marketed or coming to market in some regions, and the positive or negative consequences of these trends on future sales of diesel airplanes as retrofits or as OEMs. If you read our recent reports on this topic, you know that the U. S. FAA and EPA, the AOPA, several petroleum-based fuel producers, aero-engine manufacturers and other institutions are joining efforts to assess if it is possible to put such a fuel on the market by 2015-17.
I will be happy to share with you, by September 2010, an abstract of my survey if you will be kind enough to answer by email to firstname.lastname@example.org the following questions:
1) Country where you are based:
2) How many SPEAs are on your country’s registrar (remember that for practical purposes the large majority of SPEAs are Cessna, Piper, Cirrus, Beech, Diamond. I will also take into account Mooney, Maule Air, Liberty in regions where these models have a presence.) If you have no access to local data, your personal assessment will be useful.
3) Is there in your country a Civil Aviation Administration Agency with a website where one can find data on civil airplane population and more especially on SPEA population, its total, and perhaps even by manufacturer/model, etc?
4) If not available for your own country, is there in your world region such an Aviation Agency providing such information on a territory including your country?
5) Number of SPEAs you own and operate.
6) Is availability of regular Avgas an issue in your country today? Please state if
a) Avgas is no more available at the pump on all or most airfields, or if it is, its price is prohibitive ;
b) It is available but only if trucked upon request on the airfield, at high costs and with uncertainties on quality;
c) It is regularly available.
7) Do GA professionals in your country expect a phasing out of leaded Avgas, and if so, when approximately?
8) If in your country the present problems and uncertainties about Avgas availability, price, and quality were completely solved, what could be the long term effect on increase of the SPEA population? (Example of opinion: Twice more SPEAs within 10 years in country X)
9) Did you observe aero diesel airplanes which are presently operated in your country? If so please mention models: Diamond DA40, DA42, Cessna 172 retrofitted with Thielert/Centurion; Cessna 182 retrofitted with SMA; Piper PA28 retrofitted with Thielert/Centurion; Robin Ecoflyer; others.
10) Is your own country participating to any development and program leading to marketing a no-lead 100 Octane Avgas?
11) If so, are you expecting success of this program?
12) Do you have diesel airplanes in your fleet? If so, please share model, and number.
Thank you for your help! We will log your email address with your answer, and send you an abstract of our findings. Your email will be treated as confidential.
André R. Teissier-duCros, Publisher
posted at 3:23 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.
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.