Big-block Chevy engines return to the skies

Oct. 12, 2006
A Texas group in the Midland/ Odessa area is revving up plans to build the Orenda 600, an aircraft engine based on an eightcylinder big-block Chevy racing engine.

The twin-turbo Orenda 600, first produced in the late 1990s, is going into production again.

Trace Engines holds all the rights to the engine, which went into production in the late 1990s in Nova Scotia but was discontinue about five years ago.

Trace expects to spend about $20 million to set up a manufacturing plant for the engine, which was previously certified for flying but has yet to make much impact on the commercial market. Originally, the engine was touted as a lowcost replacement for turbine and radial engines in the 600-hp range.

The new aircraft manufacturer is two years away from starting production. The Orenda weighs in at 750 lb (minus cooling system) and with its twin turbochargers is said to use less fuel at cruising altitude than comparable Jet A-powered engines. The Texas plant should be in full production in three years.

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