Two new aircraft engines from Bombardier Recreational Products could change the face of general aviation and calm worries about rising prices on aviation gas (avgas). The V-220 and V-330T from the Canadian company run on various grades of automotive-grade gas, avgas, and even combinations of both.
Avgas is the fuel of choice for most small, pistonpowered aircraft. The problem is that the lowoctane fuel contains lead and world governments are actively trying to phase it out. To add insult to injury, refineries aren't producing as much avgas as they once did, a sign they are anticipating an outright ban of the fuel and are preparing to completely stop production. This further drives up the price.
One reason the engines can use different grades of gas is that they carry a Fadec (full-authority digital-engine control). Fadec's knock sensing lets the engine use various grades of aviation and automotive gas. The controller also makes for simple start-ups, despite hot or cold temperatures. And the electronic ignition and fuel injection provides peak fuel efficiency at all times. There is no carburetor and venturi inlet, so icing at the air inlet is practically eliminated. Fadec also lets a single lever control throttle, fuel mix, propeller pitch, and, in the V-300T, the turbo wastegate and intercooler pop-off valve. This will cut pilot workload considerably.
The Bombardier engines have several other innovative features, including their V configuration and allaluminum engine blocks. Earlier " allaluminum" blocks needed steel cylinder liners, which added weight. Bombardier has coated the cylinders of these engines with Nikasil, an electrodeposited-nickel coating containing hard particles of silicon carbide. All of this give the engines the best power-to-weight ratios in their class, which makes for longer ranges and more loadcarrying capacity.
Both engines are built around a 120°-V layout, making them smaller than engines with similar power. The compact shape will let cowlings be slimmer and more aerodynamic. And the V configuration lets engineers use straight, pin-type crankshaft journals, so the crankshaft is shorter and the engine generates less torsional vibration when running. The V shape also means the ignition sequence is symmetrical, with each cylinder firing at 120° from the last, creating a smooth sound, fewer vibrations, and better pilot comfort.
Because the engines are small and light, the manufacturer plans on packaging them as complete assemblies (Power Plant Integrated Assembly), including induction, exhaust, fuel, oil, and coolant systems, as well as engine mounts and isolators. (The V-300T, a turbocharged engine, comes with turbocharger and intercooler.) Users need only bolt the assembly to the firewall and plug it in.
A propeller speed-reduction unit with a gear ratio of 3:1 keeps the propeller under 2,000 rpm, limiting tip speed and reducing noise levels inside and outside the aircraft. There's also a 1.6-gallon muffler to help quiet the engine.
The engines use liquid cooling, which keeps them operating at nearly constant temperatures and avoids thermal shock and stresses from abrupt altitude or throttle changes. The 3-gallon system uses a 50/50 water/antifreeze mix and lets the engine operate at the leanest fuel settings for the best fuel efficiencies. It also reduces emissions, especially carbon monoxide, and lets the plane use automotive-style cabin heating. This cuts the risk of monoxide poisoning for the pilot and passengers.
The engines are undergoing final development and certification for aircraft and helicopters and should be on the market sometime next year. They will be compatible with the glass cockpits airframe makers are building for general aviation, letting engine parameters show on multifunctional displays.
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