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Aviat Husky Runs On Natural Gas

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"The U.S. has plenty of natural gas," said Aviat CEO Stu Horn on Wednesday morning at EAA AirVenture, as he showed off a blue-and-white Husky taildragger with a new belly-mounted fuel tank that carries compressed natural gas to fuel the engine. "This airplane has redundant systems, so you can use either CNG or aviation fuel," he said. Greg Herritt, president of the Aviation Foundation of America, had approached Horn earlier this year with the idea to try out the system. "Natural gas is a viable alternative fuel for general aviation," Herrick said at a news conference just outside the EAA Innovations Pavilion. "It's readily available. There's no lead in it. It emits 30 percent less carbon dioxide and 90 percent fewer smog particles [than avgas]. It's cleaner and more efficient -- it's a viable alternative." 

Herrick also said the fuel is much less expensive than avgas, and could reduce the cost of pilot training by thousands of dollars. The fuel tank on the Husky holds enough fuel for an hour of flight time and together with the fuel system weighs 135 lbs. But Horn and Herritt said they believe the technology exists to extend that endurance and reduce weight. Even if it's just 90 minutes or so of duration, they argue, that's enough for the majority of flight-training needs. Testing on the dual fuel proof of concept aircraft had reached about 20 hours by the start of AirVenture 2013.

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