Hush-Hush News Conference Friday

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Bombardier's New Engines EmergeÖ

Is the aviation world about to be set on its ear with the introduction of new piston powerplants? It would appear so. Although Bombardier/Rotax continues to be coy about what its plans are, AVweb has learned that it will announce at Oshkosh the introduction of at least two new certified aircraft engines, the V220 and the V300T. Although Bombardier officials refuse to confirm the specifics, we believe these engines are four- and six-cylinder V designs with single overhead cams and FADEC-controlled fuel and ignition systems designed to run primarily on low-octane gasoline. They sound like evolutions of the Rotax 936 the company had on the test stand a few years ago. (Multi-fuel might be an option.) The company invited us to a super-secret pre-announcement party on Friday, but only in exchange for signed non-disclosure agreements. We declined. Like their ultralight cousins, the new engines will achieve weight reduction through smaller displacement and higher RPMs to deliver the advertised horsepower (which we haven't pinned down). That means some kind of reduction drive, and, although nobody has more experience with reduction-drive aircraft engines than Bombardier, it's something other manufacturers try to avoid in piston engines. From a maintenance and technical point of view, the design and serviceability of the gearbox is as important as the engine.

...Turbocharged Model Likely...

The larger variant of the new engine is probably turbocharged; even we can surmise what that "T" means. We donít know if they're fuel injected but we canít see how any cutting-edge engine technology that hopes to deliver both performance and efficiency would be carbureted. The engines were developed in Rotax's Gunskirchen, Austria, plant during the past five years. Rotax is hardly a newcomer to the aircraft-engine world. Its two-cylinder, two-cycle powerplants are the standard for ultralights and some experimentals. Diamond used the four-cylinder 912S and 912F models in its successful Katana trainer with results best described as mixed. In the original Katana, the 80-hp, four-cylinder, four-stroke Rotax 912F delivered marginal climb performance and mixed service history. A later variant, the 912S, upped the horsepower to 100, which helped, but not enough to keep Rotax in the game. Diamond switched to Continentalís IO-240B for its follow-on Evolution/Eclipse aircraft. In retrospect, the Rotax engines delivered acceptable but not outstanding service history. They proved challenging to service in the field, and overhaul costs were nearly twice what had been promised.

...Bombardier Big Enough To Challenge Textron

Bombardier is a Canadian company based in Quebec and is a conglomerate with a business breadth somewhat similar to another big player in the piston-engine world, Textron, whose Lycoming division currently owns the OEM market for light aircraft engines. The company's aerospace segments build the Lear and Challenger jet lines and oversee the Flexjet fractional ownership business. Bombardier also makes equipment for the mass-transit industry and has a well-established foothold in the recreational and marine industries, the primary market for its Rotax piston-engine line. (It also owns Evinrude and Johnson, the outboard motor makers.) Curiously, Bombardier recently announced its intent to sell off the recreational division, of which Rotax is a part. A new company is being formed to distribute the GA engines, and Rotax will maintain business as usual, according to the company. By Oshkosh, we should have some photos to show you Ö that is, unless someone leaks them between now and then.