New GA Engine: Changes In The Wind

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Bombardier Lifts the Covers…

Canadian conglomerate Bombardier -- maker of the popular Rotax line of aircraft engines -- released details this week on its plans to take on Continental and Lycoming with a new generation of high-output piston engines. As we reported in our May 15 NewsWire, Bombardier’s new designs will be six-cylinder, 120-degree V configurations, with the normally aspirated V220 delivering 220 horsepower while the turbocharged variant, the V300T, will offer 300 horsepower. Both models have single overhead cams, in the style of modern automotive engines, and both are liquid-cooled, sporting a small radiator attached to the engine mount and presumably requiring its own inlet somewhere in the cowling. As we surmised, the new engines won’t carry the Rotax name but will be manufactured under a new division called either Bombardier Recreational Products or … something else. Curiously, just as Bombardier is delving into larger certified aircraft engines, it’s in the process of selling off its recreational products division, including the Rotax operation, which makes low-horsepower engines for both the certified and experimental/ultralight market.

…And Reveals Lots Of Tricks

As expected, the new Bombardier powerplants will be single-lever designs -- just a throttle, no mixture or prop control -- with full authority digital control overseeing variable advance timing, fuel injection and prop speed. Speaking of prop speed, it will be unusually low -- 2000 RPM geared down through what Bombardier calls a PSRU, or propeller speed reduction unit. Bombardier claims that this will allow lower prop tip speeds and far less noise, to the extent that pilots will no longer need expensive noise-canceling headsets, a claim we’ll believe when we hear it. With the variable timing and knock sensing, Bombardier says the engine will be capable of burning avgas or mogas or any blend. By aircraft engine standards, engine RPM will be quite high, 4000 to 6000 RPM, leading to some concern about fuel economy. The company released no information on fuel specifics for the two engines but promises that more will be revealed when the engines are placed on display at EAA AirVenture later this month. Bombardier is being equally cagey about what these things will cost but we’ve learned that the company will pursue a marketing plan aimed at OEM airframers, not the aftermarket conversions. Given Lycoming’s recent struggles with quality control on crankshafts, Bombardier just might find a sympathetic ear in the likes of Piper, Mooney and other manufacturers. The engines have accumulated about 6000 test-stand hours and more than 100 flying hours in a Piper Cherokee. See Bombardier’s new products at AirVenture Booths 299, 305 and 306.