AVwebFlash - Volume 16, Number 19b

May 13, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! back to top 
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Continental Unveils a Diesel Project (corrected)

Teledyne Continental says it's bullish on piston-engines that burn Jet A and today in the company's Mobile skunk works, it took the wraps off the project for a group of visiting journalists. It's a 230-HP four-cylinder, four-cycle design that's readily scalable to a six-cylinder version with up to 350-HP, a power range that will clearly match TCM's products on the gasoline side. Certification of the four-banger is planned for 2011, according to TCM's Johnny Doo, with the six to follow as early as 2013.

Continental hinted at a diesel project and we expected an announcement last year at EAA AirVenture. Because it didn't happen, we assumed TCM had delayed or dropped the project, but it was in fact exploring an innovative option: Rather than developing a clean sheet engine, it bought the diesel technology from a European company that has already certified it. Continental declined to name the company, but there are only two choices and since our photos reveal an engine that looks suspiciously like the SMA SR305, we're gonna go with that choice.

But according to Doo, this isn't a co-branding or sales agreement, but a licensing arrangement that allows Continental to run with the project, driving the developmental line forward as it sees fit. The SR305 has proven to be a good performer and durable, but SMA hasn't pushed aggressively to sell it to either OEMs or the aftermarket. TCM will presumably address that.

Doo told us TCM bought existing technology rather than clean sheet its own design primarily to speed the time to market, which the company sees as critical. Centurion (nee Thielert) SMA and Diamond have proven the diesel market and now Continental wants a piece of it. TCM's version of this engine is undergoing intensive test cell trials and is flying in a Cessna 182. Doo says Continental is aiming for a price premium only slighter higher than its avgas engines. Fuel specifics are in the .36 SFC range.

Can 94UL Replace 100LL? TCM Thinks So

Continental is moving forward with its research to pitch 94UL as a replacement for 100LL avgas, which the EPA seems serious about regulating out of existence. At the company's Mobile, Alabama test center, TCM is running detonation tests of 94UL and on Wednesday, it gave visiting journalists a preview of the project. TCM's Bill Brogdon told us on Tuesday that 94UL is essentially 100LL without the tetraethyl lead added as an octane enhancer. He says engines certified to operate of 80/87 octane—and that's a lot of engines—will have no trouble making rated power with 95UL. Similarly, says Continental, even its higher power turbocharged large displacement, low-compression ratio engines can run the lower octane. The problem engines are higher compression variants that use 8.5 to 1 compression ratios. Brogdon told us these engines may tolerate a diet of 94UL by tweaking the timing or developing affordable knock detection and variable timing. Another option, he says, is reduce compression ratio but increase displacement—re-engining with a IO-550 to replace an IO-520, for instance. Whether the owners of aircraft with these engines will nibble on that remains to be seen.

In the meantime, Continental is in a consortium pushing forward with eventual ASTM approval for 94UL, at least for Continental engines. According to sources outside of Continental, only one company is skeptical of 94UL as a drop-in replacement for 100LL — and although no one is naming names, we take that to be Lycoming. Timeline? About two years of further testing, says Brogdon, then another year or so for ASTM approval.

TCM's New Diesel Project

Original, Exclusive Videos from AVweb | Reader-Submitted & Viral Videos

TCM said more than a year ago that it wanted to get an aerodiesel into its product line, and now it has one. The company bought diesel technology already developed from a European source and is forging ahead with its own program.

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Reactions: Does This Mean It's a Diesel Future? back to top 
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AVweb Insider Blog: TCM Buys a Diesel — Does This Make Sense?

So TCM has bought into the diesel game by purchasing the intellectual rights to the SMA design. Can this possibly be made to work? Paul Bertorelli isn't 100% convinced, but in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog — submitted while Paul is on his way home from kicking tires at TCM's Mobile, Alabama press summit — he admits that TCM makes a good business case for it.

Click here to read the blog and join the conversation.

Question of the Week: Diesel Aircraft Engines and You

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


Last week, we asked AVweb readers how they feel about sharing airspace with unmanned aircraft (UAVs).

According to our poll, the majority of you aren't too keen on it: 56% of you said, Until UAVs can match the judgment and flexibility of pilots in the cockpit, leave them to the military. At the other end of the spectrum, 5% of you were willing to phase them in at night and see how they do, and 9% were O.K. with just letting them in, arguing that their electronics, combined with ground control, probably make for safer operations than what we have.

Want to see a full breakdown of responses? Take a moment to answer the question yourself, and then you can view real-time results.


Although diesel aircraft engines have been around for at least a decade, the announcement that TCM is entering the market changes the landscape somewhat. With 100LL on the way out, is diesel the way of the future?

Would you consider a diesel engine for your aircraft?
(click to answer)

Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"? Send your suggestions to .

This address is only for suggested "QOTW" questions, and not for "QOTW" answers or comments.
Use this form to send "QOTW" comments to our AVmail Editor.

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In Other Engine News ... back to top 

Centurion Simplifies Maintenance

Centurion Aircraft Engines says it has extended the life of its 2.0 liter diesel aircraft engines to 1,500 hours and eliminated a requirement to ship the engines to its German headquarters for a 1,200-hour inspection. The engines previously had a TBR (time before replacement) of 1,200 hours and there are still a few things that need replacement at that interval, including a belt, hoses and coolant. Under the life extension plan, the company had previously mandated that the 1,200-hour inspection be done at the factory but it's now allowing service centers to do the work, which takes about an hour. Removal and replacement of the engine takes about 13 hours, not to mention the time, expense and aggravation of shipping the engine to Germany under the old rules. "A particularly important aspect for fleet operators in this regard is the reduction of the aircraft on ground (AOG) period," the company said in a news release.

Centurion is now working on getting the TBR to 1,800 hours. Centurion picked up the pieces from the failure of Thielert Aircraft Engines, which became insolvent two years ago. The insolvency caused serious service disruptions for Thielert engine owners, most of them Diamond Aircraft customers. Diamond has since certified its own diesel engine, the Austro, to replace the Thielerts.

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International Learn to Fly Day: This Saturday back to top 

It's Learn To Fly Day, Saturday

May 15, 2010, is national Learn to Fly Day, which means that participating flight schools, airports, flight instructors and aviation enthusiasts across the country will host Learn to Fly seminars completely free of charge. Hundreds of venues across the country are expected to host Learn To Fly events, Saturday, in what may be the largest push for pilots in recent memory. This year, Learn to Fly Day has been organized and sponsored by EAA volunteers in conjunction with AOPA, Remos Aircraft, and PilotJourney.com, which provided presenters with standardized materials. Those materials include a "press here to play" presentation package to serve as the foundation for Saturday's organized events. While it's too late for you to receive a package and host your own event, you can still visit the Learn To Fly Day website to find a catalog of every participating events listed by state and venue, plus a link to free tickets (which are required to attend). You can also attend online.

AVweb first told you about Learn to Fly Day back in February when we also interviewed, Gary Bradshaw, the founder of PilotJourney.com. PilotJourney exists as a gatekeeper for quality flight schools, not just on learn to fly day, but every day. It is a resource and starting point for aspiring pilots. In February, Bradshaw told AVweb that the nationwide effort is volunteer supported, open to all, and participation was encouraged. His enthusiasm was bountiful.

Related Content:
Click for an audio podcast interview with Gary Bradshaw

Learning to Fly Knows No Gender (But It Does Have Its Own Day)

File Size 5.8 MB / Running Time 6:20

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

May 15 is International Learn to Fly Day, and there's a push on to interest girls in aviation, since only about six percent of the pilot population is female. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Lt. Col. Maryse Carmichael, the new commanding officer of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, about pursuing your aviation dreams.

Click here to listen. (5.8 MB, 6:20)

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Around the Airport back to top 

Good News For Airport Access

Two recent developments are good news for expanding access to general aviation airports, AOPA said this week. In Tennessee, the state legislature has approved a bill that will provide liability protection to owners of private airfields who open their facility to the public. "I think this is going to open a lot of doors," said AOPA Southeast Regional Representative Bob Minter. "The fun of flying is no better than at a small grass strip." The new legislation, once signed into law by the governor, will allow "recreational noncommercial aircraft operations" under the same kind of rules that govern public use of private lands for hunting or fishing. Also, the FAA recently said it will allow through-the-fence access at an Oregon airport, a change to the hard line the agency has taken to such requests for the last couple of years, AOPA said.

Through-the-fence agreements allow the owners of homes and businesses on private property access to airports. They have always been difficult to arrange, but in the last year or two the FAA has sought to terminate existing agreements and ban any new ones. AOPA said this week its efforts to persuade the FAA to take "a more reasonable and balanced approach" are paying off. "AOPA continues to work with the FAA to strike a balance that protects airports and those based on the airport while accommodating those individuals who want residential access at airports where it would be a benefit to the airport," said AOPA Vice President of Airports and State Advocacy Greg Pecoraro. Independence State Airport in Oregon is next door to an airpark community where many homeowners have hangars and can taxi from home to the airfield. The EAA and ThroughTheFence.org have also been working with the airpark homeowners to help ensure their continuing access to the runways. Pecoraro said the decision in Oregon is just one step in a continuing process. "This issue is not a sprint, but a marathon, and will take time," he said. In a letter (PDF) to the Oregon Department of Aviation, the FAA said the decision was based on existing policy, and "we are in the process of reviewing this policy to determine if it should be changed." The Oregon case yielded "constructive information" which may impact that review, according to the letter.

A New Hazard To Watch For: Met Towers

Landowners in search of a wind-power site first install meteorological towers, or met towers, to collect wind data, and these towers may be a hazard to pilots, the FAA said this week. The towers can be up to 260 feet tall, and no lighting is required if they are less than 200 feet high. They can be erected very quickly and may remain on the site for just a few days, but most will stay for a year or longer. "At this time there is no standardized notification system in place to indicate when and where these towers are erected," the FAA said. They are not posted in any Airport Facility Directory or Notams unless they interfere with airport operations.

Most of the towers have guy wires that extend up to 200 feet from the base of the tower. This FAA PowerPoint (PDF) shows how difficult it can be to spot one of these tall, skinny towers from the air. Because of the lighting requirement, most of the towers are just under 200 feet AGL. Pilots who routinely fly low-level missions can get more information from a team of pilots who work for the Department of the Interior, who have been gathering data on low-level hazards, including met towers. Their contact information is included in this PDF that was distributed by the FAA Safety Team.

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News Briefs back to top 

FAA Seeks Input On Aircraft Design Rules

The FAA is mulling over major changes to the rules for certifying small aircraft, and the public is invited to chime in at a meeting to be held in Scottsdale, Ariz., June 8 and 9. "Specifically, we would like feedback from manufacturers, pilots, owners, mechanics, instructors and anyone else with an interest in the small airplane industry," the FAA said. The Scottsdale meeting is one of several that will be held around the country, and follows a similar event in Wichita, Kan., in February. The FAA wants to reorganize Part 23 so it's based on airplane performance and complexity, instead of the current divisions based on weight and propulsion. "New small turbine engines, composite airframes, and lightweight digital electronics offer part 23 airplanes the operational capability and performance of traditionally larger part 25 airplanes," the FAA said in its certification study. "The slow, simple Part 23 airplanes have suffered as the standards have shifted toward more complex airplanes."

More details about the FAA's Small Airplane Directorate and a PDF of the Part 23 study can be found here. The FAA's official notice about the Scottsdale meeting can be found here. Attendance is open to the interested public, but since space is limited, anyone who would like to go is asked to notify Lowell Foster, FAA Regulations and Policy, by phone at (816) 329-4125 or via e-mail at lowell.foster@faa.gov.

Airbus Crashes On Approach In Libya

An Airbus A330-200 crashed on approach to the Tripoli airport in Libya on Wednesday morning, killing 103, with only one survivor, a child from the Netherlands. The volcanic ash from Iceland didn't seem to be a factor in the region, according to news reports. Visibility at the time of the crash was reportedly hazy, with a cloud layer at 300 feet. The airplane was delivered to Afriqiyah Airways last September and had accumulated about 1,600 flight hours. It was on final approach to the airport's main runway, approaching from the east, when it hit the ground near the runway threshold and broke apart. Investigators have retrieved the airplane's voice and data recorders.

Pictures of the debris field show widely scattered small fragments of the aircraft. Libyan officials said they did not suspect terrorism. Afriqiyah Airways was founded in 2001 and is fully owned by the Libyan government. The airline operates only Airbus aircraft and has passed all of its recent safety inspections. It is not included on the European Union's list of 300 banned airlines. More than half of the passengers were Dutch, with others on board from the U.K., South Africa, and Libya.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

GAMA Finds GA Sales "Far From Recovery"

Sales of general aviation aircraft didn't drop as dramatically in the first quarter of this year as they did the year before, but nonetheless, sales are down by 15 percent overall compared to the first quarter of 2009, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) reported on Monday. Worldwide, a total of 390 GA airplanes were delivered. "These numbers are being released on the heels of Europe's premier business aviation show, the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition [EBACE], where many of our manufacturers noted that the market seems to be stabilizing," said GAMA President Pete Bunce. "Reported flight activity from the FAA and Eurocontrol is on an upward trend and the used aircraft inventory is slowly decreasing. However, these first-quarter figures reveal that our industry is far from a recovery." Some GA manufacturers did report slight upticks in deliveries.

Cirrus Design, for example, rose from 39 to 53 deliveries, and Piper reported an increase from 22 in 1Q09 to 30 in the same period this year. Diamond saw a decline from 49 to 35. Cessna delivered 135 aircraft in 1Q09 and 80 in the latest quarter. The piston airplane segment overall was down 7.3 percent in the first quarter, with 166 units delivered, compared to 179 airplanes in the first three months of 2009. The turboprop segment delivered 60 units, down from 89 units during 1Q09, for a 32.6 percent decrease. Business jet shipments fell 14.1 percent in the first quarter with 164 airplanes delivered, compared to 191 in 1Q09. GAMA said the continuation of bonus depreciation will be crucial to help the industry increase production and bring back lost jobs. Bunce said, "We join with the rest of the manufacturing sector in calling upon the U.S. Congress to approve bonus depreciation for products ordered in 2010." The Obama administration has shown strong support for the initiative, he added. The complete 1Q10 report (PDF) and the 2009 report (PDF) are both posted online.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

Have you signed up yet for AVweb's no-cost weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz?

Delivered every Wednesday morning, AVwebBiz focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry, making it a must-read.

Add AVwebBiz to your AVweb subscriptions today by clicking here and choosing "Update E-mail Subscriptions."

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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Kitplanes Reports from CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium

Original, Exclusive Videos from AVweb | Reader-Submitted & Viral Videos

With electric airplanes continuing to gain favor, the fifth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium was held recently, and here's a video report from Kitplanes magazine editor Marc Cook. In case you haven't been paying attention, there has been broad progress in battery technology and endurance, motor weight, and power and charging systems. This video summarizes the high points.

If you enjoy this video, be sure to check out our sister publication, Kitplanes magazine.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Danville/Boyle County Airport Board (KDVK, Danville, KY)

Nominate an FBO | Rules | Tips | Questions | Winning FBOs

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We saw plenty of great FBO stories this week, but none that wowed us so much as AVweb reader Liza Kummer's story of above-and-beyond service at Danville/Boyle County Airport Board, located at Stuart Powell Field (KDVK) in Danville, Kentucky:

We landed late at night enroute from Penn to Texas and stayed at the fabulous Hampton Inn. The lady with Sharon's Car Service — Danville did not have taxis — waited an hour for us at the airport! It looked like we were going to be unable to fly the next day because of a scary-looking squall line with forecasts of hail. I called the FBO early in the morning and asked if they could hangar my plane. J.W. [Lynn] sent his son Nathan to the hotel to pick up the keys! After thoroughly researching the weather, we were able to plan a path to avoid all those nasty orange and red radar echoes and decided to forge on before the squall line hit. J.W. sent Nathan back to retrieve us from the hotel! It was raining now, and they retrieved my plane from the corporate hangar, filled the tanks at the self-service for me, pulled the plane close to the FBO to avoid getting wet, handed me an umbrella for my pre-flight, and gave us bottles of water for the flight. We felt like royalty.

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. I'll definitely plan a stop there on my next cross-country flight back to PA. Good luck to Nathan on getting his private pilot's ticket. (Oh yeah, J.W. is also a CFI!)

Keep those nominations coming. For complete contest rules, click here.

AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!

Help Us Celebrate AVweb's 15th Anniversary back to top 

15 Years and Now 15 Grand Giveaways ... It's Your Chance to Win a King Schools Get-It-All Training Kit

CLICK HERE to Register for All 15 Drawings

Win a Get-It-All Training Kit from King Schools as we celebrate our 15th Anniversary! All you have to do is click here to enter your name and e-mail address. (You only have to enter once, and you'll be entered in our prize drawings for the entire year — so if you've already entered, you're all set.)

And no, we're not going to rent or sell your name, ever. Tell your friends, and invite them to sign up for AVweb so they can qualify for our 15 Grand Giveaways prize drawings, too. (We won't spam them, either — but we hope they will sign up for our newsletters.)

Deadline for entries is 11:59pm Zulu time May 21, 2010.

Click here to read the contest rules and enter.

Congratulations to David Schieman of Lawrenceville, Georgia, who won Scheyden Dual RX frames and a Scheyden flight gear package in our last drawing! (click here to get your own from Scheyden)

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 200,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions | Past Winners

Each week, we go through dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of reader-submitted photos and pick the very best to share with you on Thursday mornings. The top photos are featured on AVweb's home page, and one photo that stands above the others is awarded an AVweb baseball cap as our "Picture of the Week." Want to see your photo on AVweb.com? Click here to submit it to our weekly contest.


Submissions return to normal this week following the flood of post-Sun 'n Fun submissions and the vacation week everyone logged to recover from the show. Now — who's ready to start getting us jacked up for Oshkosh? We're an excitable bunch, so all it will take are a few of your photos.

medium | large

Used with permission of Ron Horton

Steam Gauges at Night

"There are a few of us out here who still fly steam gauges," writes "POTW" semi-regular Ron Horton of Ft. Mill, South Carolina; "the NuLite rings sure help to light them up at night." Ron snapped this shot on clear night when the 496 seen here didn't have much heavy lifting to do ... .

medium | large

copyright © Kevin Brennan
Used with permission


We can almost smell the bratwurst in this AirVenture photo from Kevin Brennan of Rochester Hills, Michigan. The young man (with anything but lunch on his mind) is Kevin's grandson, basking in his first air show.

medium | large

Used with permission of Steve Trebing

Polished Reflections

Steve Trebing of Mooresville, North Carolina (just up I-77 from Ron Horton!) knows how to find the silver lining in a storm cloud. Here he put the gathering rains at this year's Sun 'n Fun Fly-In to work for him, catching a few stray rays of sunlight falling on this Lockheed 12 displayed at the show.

medium | large

Used with permission of Colby Morgan

Arkansas Hog

Colby Morgan of Greenwood, Arkansas tells us this A-10 warthog is in service with the 188th Fighter Wing (the "Fighting Razorbacks") at Fort Smith.

That's what Colby told us about it — and now we're telling you that it makes a pretty sharp desktop wallpaper!

medium | large

copyright © Paul Tipton
Used with permission

Central Texas Air Show

We wrap up this week with another air show photo, this time showcasing the wide open skies of the Texas Central Air Show, courtesy of Paul Tipton of Belton, Texas.

You'll find more reader-submitted photos in the slideshow on AVweb's home page. Don't miss 'em!

Click here to submit your own photos to "POTW."

A quick note for submitters: If you've got several photos that you feel are "POTW" material, your best bet is to submit them one-a-week! That gives your photos a greater chance of seeing print on AVweb, and it makes the selection process a little easier on us, too. ;)

A Reminder About Copyrights:
Please take a moment to consider the source of your image before submitting to our "Picture of the Week" contest. If you did not take the photo yourself, ask yourself if you are indeed authorized to release publication rights to AVweb. If you're uncertain, consult the POTW Rules or or send us an e-mail.

Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

AVwebFlash is a weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.

The AVwebFlash team is:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Scott Simmons

Jeff van West
Mariano Rosales

Click here to send a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)

Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's sales team.

If you're having trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd prefer a lighter, simpler format for your PDA or handheld device), there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

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