Experimenter

FEB 2015

Experimenter is a magazine created by EAA for people who build airplanes. We will report on amateur-built aircraft as well as ultralights and other light aircraft.

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18 Vol.4 No.2 / Februar y 2015 ENGINES FOR HOMEBUILDERS ON A BUDGET LET'S LOOK AT THE current status of engines for homebuilders. Unfortunately, the pace of evolution in aircraft engine technology is glacial compared to that of avionics. The power of the tools for pro- ducing engines has increased greatly, but the economics of producing engines in small quantities is still much the same. It takes mass production to reduce costs. The entire market for new piston aircraft engines is estimated at about 2,000 or 3,000 a year. By contrast, Ferrari, the "Cadillac of Fiats," makes 7,000 cars and engines a year, and the major automakers make cars in the millions. Manufacturing aircraft engines is such a small and dif cult busi- ness that we should be thankful there are companies that are willing to take the risks involved. The freedom of experimenters to legally use just about any powerplant for their experimental aircraft helps to make af ord- able fl ying possible. The increasing expense of keeping certifi cated aircraft in service means that the supply of used Lycoming and Continental engines will remain robust. They are not inexpen- sive to overhaul and operate, but homebuilders have alternatives. Aviators are typically quite conservative. The majority will stick to Lycoming or Continental engines or the multitude of clones. Continental Motorsnow has a full line of avgas and jet-fueled piston engines. www.ContinentalMotors.aero Lycoming has a full line of avgas piston engines, including special engines for light-sport aircraft (LSA) and homebuilts. They are still kind of hiding their jet fuel engines from us. www.Lycoming.com Superior Air Parts makes almost all kinds of FAA-approved replacement parts, so a Lycoming clone is a short step away. With the freedom of the experimental category, interesting combina- tions are possible. www.SuperiorAirParts.com Titan also has gone down the clone road. Its R-Series engines feature a new, one-piece cylinder and head and other improved components to prove there is still life in the old fl at engine confi gu- ration. www.TitanEngine.com Somewhat lost but not forgotten are the well-regarded Franklin engines. www.Franklin-Engines.com/en/home , www.FranklinEngines.com Although Menasco and Ranger engines are long gone, in-line, inverted, direct-drive, air-cooled aircraft engines are still made in the Czech Republic. www.PistoveMotory.cz/en , www.ParmaT- echnik.cz/english A new engine manufacturer will have a marketing advantage if it sticks with the established layout of light airplane engines— direct-drive, air-cooled, horizontally opposed engines. Rotax's dominance of the 100-hp class came about because it is a better engine for the weight-critical LSA category than engines of ered by Lycoming and Continental. Ly-Con was also very late addressing the LSA market. By developing a small, geared, high-speed liquid/air/oil-cooled engine, Rotax was able to reduce engine weight while swinging a large-diameter, ef cient propel- ler, with reliability and a low noise footprint. There are still many pilots who have trouble accepting the Rotax approach even though it has achieved very competitive TBOs. You might recall some years back that Rotax developed and certifi ed a liquid-cooled, geared V-6 of 250 to 300 hp but chose not to put it into produc- tion. I believe Rotax could not make a business case for selling a small number of engines at a price point competitive with existing Lycomings and Continentals. Toyota went a similar route with similar results. Porsche, anyone? Rotax became the biggest piston aircraft engine manufacturer by starting with snowmobiles. It did not take a large investment to modify its snowmobile engines to power ultralights. Because Rotax worked at it, Rotax became the dominant manufacturer of two-stroke engines for ultralights. Rotax recognized the desire for four-stroke engines, and having experience in building four-strokes for other recreational products, it developed the 912/914 series of four-stroke engines that dominate their horsepower class (40,000 built). Being an Austrian manufacturer owned by a Canadian com- pany, it has less liability exposure than an American company. It is extremely hard to compete with the 90-plus-percent dominant manufacturer, but obviously a few companies are trying. Jabiru from Australia has a fl at-four, direct-drive engine of 85 hp, and a 120-hp fl at-six, both air cooled. www.USJabiru.com , www.Jabiru.net.au Engines for Homebuilders on a Budget A digital catalog BY MURRY I. ROZ ANSK Y The 60-hp HKS 700E four-stroke engine has been quietly taking the place of two- strokes for a number of years. Although more expensive to buy, it is less expensive to own and operate. Photography courtesy of Green Sky Adventures

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