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 July 30, 2012
Cessna will market in 2013 a Cessna 182 turbo diesel, bringing Jet A fuel engine to piston market – The momentous news, our comments.
Cessna Aircraft Company,
press release says, is introducing an innovative technology for single-engine
airplanes that will usher in new capabilities and increase the flexibility of
general aviation. Cessna's Model 182 Skylane will now be available as the Turbo
182 NXT equipped with the first engine of its kind in the single-engine
industry designed to run on Jet A aviation fuel. (Comment: This is a bit unfair
for Diamond Air’s DA40, for Robin’s Ecoflyer, which are diesel aircraft, and
let’s not forget some 150 airworthy Cessna 172s retrofitted with Thielert.) "Cessna's
Turbo 182 NXT delivers a solution that the marketplace has been asking
for," said Jeff Umscheid, Cessna 172, 182, 206 business leader. "The
230 horsepower Jet A engine offers customers increased range and greater
payload capacity, and does not sacrifice performance. This plane offers
significantly lower direct operating costs due to the fact that Jet A fuel is
typically more affordable and much more widely available." The Turbo 182
NXT is a result of market research and has already undergone extensive
reliability testing, as well as flight testing. The Safran-made SMA engine is
engineered specifically for aviation and is already FAA and EASA certified. The
engine uses only 11 gallons per hour of the typically lower-cost Jet A fuel at
the estimated maximum cruise speed of 155 knots. (Comment: The reference to
Safran is here to remind that the Safran Group and Cessna have other areas of
cooperation…) "Operators can now take advantage of the wider availability
of Jet A with the potential to fly farther on one gallon of gas than you can
with traditional avgas aircraft," Umscheid said. "This is a
game-changer that opens up new markets and new regions of the world due to its
versatility and performance." There are environmental benefits that go
with the Turbo 182 NXT. The fuel technology used in this engine eliminates concerns
about carbon monoxide emissions, fuel mixtures, propeller control and exhaust
gas. The engine operates at a lower propeller speed. As a result, the
turbocharger technology delivers a quieter flight line and reduces noise
pollution. There are zero lead emissions and zero CO emissions. Flight at the
maximum cruise speed demonstrates greater fuel efficiency, and will burn
approximately 30 percent to 40 percent less fuel than comparable avgas engines.
The Turbo 182 NXT has a seating capacity for four and an estimated range at max
cruise speed of 1,160 nautical miles (2,148 kilometers). The certified ceiling
is 20,000 feet (6,096 meters). (Comment: The 12,500 ft barrier imposed on
previous SMA conversions is now broken. Other 182 owners in other parts o the world
have experienced 25,000 ft without problems. Meanwhile, this explains why a
speed of 155 kts. is advertized.) The Garmin G1000 avionics suite is
pilot-friendly and highly-functional, bringing great levels of situational
awareness to the cockpit. The engine diagnostics display on the primary flight
display and the multi-function flight display. Fuel capacity is 87 gallons (329
liters), with an estimated useful load of 1,030 pounds (467 kilograms).
Comments: These modest and accurate
announcements look like a small step for Cessna. They mean a giant step for the
still small world of aero diesels.
Cessna isn’t only the world leader in piston-engined planes; it isn’t
only the world leader in GA airplanes with a universal catalogue going by small
increments from the Skycatcher to the top of the market in business jets;
around a quarter of all airplanes flying in the world, with a global presence
going way out of the good ol’ USA, are Cessna piston-engined singles. Cessna is
the opinion-leader and trend-setter, all the more that it still is a U. S.
corporation. For all investors and manufacturers, it means that the aero diesel
engine has come, and is here to stay for many reasons our readers know. The
main reason for the short term is the use of Jetfuel, which is and will be
available everywhere for aircraft and vehicles, for stationary and moving
applications, for military and civilian applications: A single fuel for all.
The main reason for the long term is that the diesel technology is still young:
Specific Fuel Consumption is already 25-30% less than with any combustion
engines, and technology exists to bring it down by another 35%. Keep reading us
Bertorelli (AVweb) comments: “Fresh off the announcement that Cessna will offer
a Skylane with an SMA diesel engine, SMA said Tuesday that Lycoming will
support the engine in the field with parts and services. SMA's CEO Thierry
Hurtes said in an interview with AVweb
that the chief lesson SMA learned
from marketing its original SR305 10 years ago is that a service and repair
network is a must for any new engine entering the market. Although SMA doesn't
have its own, Cessna and Lycoming -- both Textron units -- do and the companies
have struck an agreement for SMA support parts to flow through the Lycoming
parts chain. Lycoming apparently has chosen not to develop a diesel of its own
so Cessna obviously searched elsewhere for a Jet A-burning piston engine for
the 182. The SR305-230E -- the latest iteration of SMA's engine -- was
certified by the FAA in April 2011 and Hurtes told AVweb
company is tooled up and prepared for serial production. Although the
engine/airplane combination isn't certified yet, Cessna has committed to
deliveries of the 182 NXT by the second quarter of 2013. It will replace the
turbocharged version of the Cessna 182, according to Cessna. The commitment by
an OEM may have given SMA just the boost it needed to continue development of
the SR305 into a higher output six-cylinder version. At a press briefing,
Hurtes was noncommittal on the specifics of larger engines but indicated
they're a likelihood. The SR305 will come out of the box with a 2400-hour TBO
based on more than 9000 hours of testing. Further, the engine's operating envelope
has been expanded to 20,000 feet from about 12,000, thanks to an improved
turbocharger and fueling tweaks. It also appears that the engine will be field
overhaulable, but we're not sure if that means Lycoming or competitive field
shops or both.” For more on the SMA engine, click on this podcast
with Thierry Hurtes.
Press releases and
sources from Cessna Aircraft Company, AVweb and SMA Engines.
posted at 1:55 PM
News of July 15, 2012
Ecomotors secures two rounds of financing totaling $66 million equity for OPOC engine development.
You can read it anywhere on the web: This is the first time
that a truly innovative internal combustion engine concept gets such a
significant financing. But does innovative mean more efficient? More efficient
than a gasoline engine for sure, since it is a diesel. But how does it compare
with existing aero diesel engines or developments in progress?
The OPOC (for Opposed Pistons, Opposed Cylinders) engine,
says the website, is 15 to 50% more efficient than a conventional gasoline
engine. I assume it means: Depending on the power rating. At maximal cruise
speed, therefore at close to maximal power, a diesel is only 15-20% more
efficient than a gasoline engine of same power. At most optimal economy cruise,
a diesel can be 50% more efficient: This was demonstrated when 2 Cessna 182s,
one with the SMA diesel, one with the O-540 gasoline engine, flying in
formation therefore at same speed, traveled from Europe to Oshkosh. The diesel
consumed 48% of what the gasoline engine did.
So, as long as Ecomotors doesn’t publish clear figures on
their SFC, I can only assume that they have a very good diesel engine, but that
it is not a breakthrough.
In fact, reading their literature, it seems that they
abandoned their initial plans to equip a helicopter; they never publicized
plans for an airplane engine; they concentrate instead, with Navistar, on a
heavy vehicle engine; and they are talking of adapting the OPOC design to… gasoline
I shall wait for more information, and for the time being
consider that the OPOC engine will not be an aircraft engine in the foreseeable
posted at 12:28 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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