Monday, 8 March 2010

Fuel woes

We've been doing some work on fuel prices in the office. Avgas is generally more than £1.50 a litre, and in some places over £2 a litre. That's bloody expensive, but at least it is still available in the UK, there are quite a few places in the world where you can't buy avgas at any price.

So what's the answer, mogas engines? Perhaps, mogas is certainly much more available than avgas, but it comes with limitations on altitude and that's without the concern over ethanol in fuel.

So how about jet A1 engines? There are currently three certificated options...

Thielert - Started life being put into Diamonds and the Robin Ecoflyer, had a contract with Cessna and went bust. Centurion (one of teh biggest stands at Friedrichshafen last year) now offering Thielert engines providing those with existing engines spares and new engines. I suspect that many OEMs are nervous of the name.

AustroEngines - Diamond's own engine, now certificated in the DA42. This engine should prove to be good, but many will be looking for more field experience before parting with cash. Christian Dries (Mr Diamond) has previously said that the engine is available to any OEM who wants to buy it, but so far only Diamond is fitting the engine.

SMA - French engine developed with huge amounts of money, partly by some of the Renault F1 team (when they were out of F1). Maule is set to become the first OEM with the M9.

No obvious winner there, and while we'd all love cheap and light turbines, they're not just around the corner - so what's going to happen? For those happy to fly lighter two-seat aeroplanes then the Rotax 912 is the answer: reliable, light, frugal and runs on avgas.

For those who need more power it looks like the SMA is currently the best long-term bet. Watch this space!



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