Orenda V-8 Making Comeback?

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A Texas group in the Midland/Odessa area is revving up plans to build the Orenda 600, a geared aircraft engine based on an 8-cylinder big-block Chevy racing engine. Trace Engines holds all the rights to the engine, which went into production in the late 1990s in Nova Scotia but was dropped by Orenda Aerospace's parent company Magellan Aerospace about five years ago. According to the Odessa American, Trace Engines now expects to spend about $20 million to set up a manufacturing plant for the engine, which previously achieved certification but has yet to make much impact on the commercial market. When originally developed, the engine was touted as a low-cost replacement for turbine and radial engines in the 600-hp range -- Trace says that market still exists. According to the newspaper report, the deal was sealed last Thursday and Curtis Leonard, a local lawyer who helped put the deal together, said there's a new aircraft manufacturer two years away from starting production "that exclusively needs and uses this engine" (and no, we haven't the faintest idea who he might be talking about). The Orenda weighs in at 750 pounds (minus cooling system) and with its twin turbochargers is said to be comfortable in the flight levels where it uses less fuel than comparable Jet A-powered products. The Texas plant is anticipated to be in full production in three years with 115 employees.