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 27, 2011
Perspectives for aero diesels after FAA's and EPA’s engagement on unleaded avgas, and after strategic Chinese initiatives in Piston-Engined Aircraft.
AOPA says: Good news: The EPA and FAA are in sync regarding unleaded Avgas. Most of the early process has been with the EPA—responding to a petition from the environmental group, Friends of the Earth, to review the environmental effects of leaded avgas. However, in 2011 and beyond, the FAA will take on a more visible role, aiming at safety, performance, and practicality of an unleaded replacement for 100LL. Refresher: The Clean Air Act requires that EPA consult with FAA when issuing proposed emission standards for aircraft, and EPA is prohibited from issuing those regulations if that consultation reveals an adverse impact on safety or noise. On the other hand, FAA may prescribe standards for aviation fuel, but only if EPA determines that aircraft emissions from the fuel endanger public health. The FAA has invested resources to support research for unleaded alternate fuels at the William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, N.J. The FAA's Engine and Propeller Directorate is also closely involved and in regular direct communication with the GA Avgas Coalition, individual aircraft and engine manufacturers, the petroleum industry, and new fuel producers. FAA says “Aviation fuel is certified by FAA as an operating limitation of both the aircraft and the engine. If a new fuel can be developed that falls within the existing aviation fuel operating limitations of the legacy fleet of aircraft, then FAA approval is easy. … The operating limitations must … ensure that the fuel is controlled to the extent necessary for safe operation. An alternative fuel specification is acceptable as long as it provides the necessary level of control of the fuel composition and properties.” This defines the long-term process. In the near term, and as an interim step, the FAA, at the request of the GA Avgas Coalition, is now evaluating very-low-lead fuel that could be incorporated into the existing avgas production and supply chain without the need for engine modifications or re-certification. This is seen as a short-term initiative to address the EPA's new National Ambient Air Quality Standards and not as a long-term solution. But the long-term process to assess unleaded solutions will go forward and will be accomplished with an industry consensus-based fuel specification, such as those written by ASTM International. ASTM …is an organization that develops standards and specifications for many industrial and engineering products, including aviation fuels. Within the ASTM process, the FAA has noted the particular progress of two leading unleaded fuel developers, General Aviation Modifications Inc. (GAMI) and Swift Enterprises. The FAA outlined the two companies’ progress in a backgrounder:
• GAMI has requested an ASTM specification approval for its unleaded fuel and requested a supplemental type certificate (STC) approval for use of its G100UL fuel on Teledyne Continental Motors IO-550-N engines that are modified with a turbonormalizer. “While the STC approval will be limited to the IO-550-N engine installed in the Cirrus SR22 airplane, it is expected that the ASTM specification will have broader applicability,” the FAA explained. GAMI plans to work with the FAA to develop a detailed compliance plan for the G100UL fuel.
• Swift Enterprises has also been developing an unleaded high octane aviation gasoline designed to meet or exceed the operational parameters of conventional, leaded aviation gasoline. “Through industry consensus and direction, Swift has developed a test specification for their fuel, called UL102, and has generated the necessary research and development data over these last five years to support that specification. Swift is currently in the final stages of balloting the test specification and supporting data to the ASTM International membership for final approval and issuance,” the FAA said.
In addition, the FAA is focusing significant resources on developing an alternative to this consensus-based ASTM process that would support FAA approval of an aviation fuel operating limitation using a compliance method that provides an equivalent level of safety to the ASTM process. Such a compliance concept would be predicated on compositional control of the fuel and would require a rigorous evaluation of the fuel performance, the FAA said. (Sources: AOPA, 1/25/11; DieselAir expert panel)
This report does not justify any change in DieselAir’s previous forecast on the future of Avgas: 100LL as we use it now will be phased out between 2016 at earliest and 2022 at latest. If a new, unleaded 100 Octane Avgas is indeed put on the market (call it 100UL), it will be priced, on the airfield, at least $10 per gallon in 2010 dollars. 100UL will be marketed essentially in the US and Canada, and will delay somewhat the take off of aero diesel engine in these countries. Diesel will continue its progression outside North America and will notably take off in China. Centurion Engines, who manages Thielert presently in receivership and seeks an investor, recently received the biggest Chinese order for Thielert aero diesels: eleven engines, for new planes, in early 2011 from Shandong Bin Ao Aircraft, who manufactures the Diamond DA40 for the local market.
The main question remains that any of the present aero diesel manufacturers (Thielert, SMA, Wilksch, DeltaHawk, Austro Engine…) is in bad need of massive funding in order to build up its business to the point of offering a complete range of engine powers from 100 to 500HP, to get them certified and STC’d at least for the main piston-engined airplane vendors, and to generate a positive cash flow. We are talking here of funding levels of around $100 million on top of whatever was already invested… Continental, SMA’s licensee, is now Chinese-owned. DeltaHawk got equity funding also from China. Sunward Aviation, a Chinese private venture, has plans for a diesel 2-stroke 100HP light airplane. The initiative seems to come more and more from China…
posted at 10:26 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.
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