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Biofuel-Friendly GA Engine Debuts In South Africa

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A South African company has introduced a new engine for general aviation aircraft that the company says will run on a range of fuels, including unleaded mogas with an octane rating as low as 85, standard avgas, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), or biofuel. The 320-hp Adept Aviation engine "sets new standards for performance and low life-cycle costs," according to the company's news release. The liquid-cooled engine with electronic engine management was rolled out last week in an SA Ravin 500 airplane. The engine features low emissions and noise levels, the company said, and weighs about 348 pounds. "It is roughly 30 percent lighter than traditional piston engines of comparable horsepower and offers fuel efficiencies of up to 30 percent better than conventional GA powerplants," the company said.

The company, which is based at Virginia Airport in Durban, S.A., has been ground-testing the engine and expects to start flight tests soon, according to its Web site. Adept Aviation is a seven-year-old company that was launched with private funding. Since 2005, UK-based AgustaWestland Helicopters has provided significant support and continues to fund Adept's certification process through the European Aviation and Safety Agency (EASA). In 2007, the South African government's Department of Science and Technology invested R10.5m (about $1.4 million in US dollars) to fund the company to a pre-production stage. Adept is now in discussion with prospective funders for support to ramp up to full production.

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