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XPONENTIAL Innovation Preview -- www.allthingsunmanned.com

Tue, Jul 29, 2008

Lycoming Intros Integrated Engine Technology Across Engine Line

Shows 10-15 Percent Improvement In Fuel Economy

Engine-maker Lycoming Monday announced what it described as a new standard for piston engine controls in its IE2 Series engines. Starting with its twin-turbocharged, 350-HP TEO-540-A1A flat six, Lycoming plans to certify its new Integrated Electronic Engine technology across its entire line.

Sr. VP and General Manager Ian Walsh explained that the 540 was chosen to get the technology first, not because the company felt the demand was greatest on that platform, but because it would show that the system was ready for even one of Lycoming's largest, most complex, most powerful products.

The IE2 technology essentially brings the legacy engine configurations in line with the technology found on high end automtive control platforms. Fuel delivery, timing and other performance factors are managed, not as overall averages as in typical aircraft FADEC systems, but individually for each cylinder.

Lycoming says benefits include electronic knock detection, laying the groundwork for alternative fuels in the future, ease in starting similar to modern cars, and even automated pre-flight engine checks. Walsh added at the Monday press conference that fuel economy rises as much as 10-15 percent in cruise.

Certification of the technology on the 540 is expected next year.

Lycoming also had other engine advances to report. Drawing from the solid O-235 platform proven over decades, a new IO-233-LSA variant has been lightened, given throttle-body fuel injection and electronic ignition, and offers 100 continuous horsepower in as little as 200 pounds dry weight.

The new engine is targeted at the light sport segment, where Rotax has built a big sales lead with its 900-series, water-cooled four-strokes, and Continental recently introduced its updated O-200D, chosen by Cessna as the powerplant for its Model 162 SkyCatcher.

The new Lycoming IO-233 will enter the market with a time-between-overhaul of 2,400 hours, competitive with Continental's offering, and without the complexity of water cooling and the gear redeuction drive found on the Rotax engines. It will also be capable of running on even low-octane automotive gasolines, provided they contain no alcohol.

Lycoming says ASTM standards testing will be completed this year, and the IO-233-LSA will be considered for full FAA certification in 2009 if market demand warrants.

In other engine program updates, Lycoming announced that its 390-cubic-inch four-cylinder engine (shown above, right), which has been available for several years as a powerplant for experimental aircraft, will join the Lycoming certified engine family by this November. The 390 fits in the same space required for the 360-series, but offers slightly more power.

All three new engines can be seen at Lycoming's tent at AirVenture.

With all the new engine technology coming on line, Lycoming also announced Monday a program to assist existing aircraft owners who wish to install new Lycoming engines. Called the Echelon STC Program, the first retrofit to be certified will be the new IO-390-A1A6 engine (shown at right) into the Cessna 177RG.

The engine installation will be STC'd in a package which includes a McCauley prop and Slick Start ignition, and program launch is set for this fall.

FMI: www.lycoming.com

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