The diesel engine demonstrator aiming to replace turboshafts in light helicopters, which could cut fuel burn by about 30 percent, is said to be on track for installation and ground tests on a Eurocopter EC120 in the first quarter of 2014. Some components have been tested in laboratories and critical design reviews conducted last week were successful, according to project officer Sébastien Dubois.
Eurocopter might exhibit a hybrid helicopter, using both piston engines and electric motors like a hybrid car, by Heli-Expo 2020. Parent company EADS last year unveiled a helicopter concept that could burn 50 percent less fuel than its traditional equivalent. EADS Innovation Works is devising a way to combine diesel engines, generators, batteries and electric motors.
Eurocopter is here exhibiting its “Bluecopter” diesel engine concept on the static display. The so-called “high-compression engine” is supposed to bring greener performance to light helicopters currently powered by a single turboshaft. Targeted are a 40-percent cut in CO2 emissions and a 53-percent reduction in NOx emissions.
The diesel-powered Diamond DA42 TwinStar made its first flight on December 9 from the factory at Wiener Neustadt, Austria. TwinStar’s Thielert Centurion 1.7 engines rated at 135 hp each are designed to operate on both diesel fuel and jet-A1. The composite-construction four-seat aircraft has a single-lever power control for each engine, fuel consumption of 67 pph at 180 kt and an option for an all-glass cockpit.
Of the many companies that have attempted to tackle world markets with a new-technology piston engine for light singles and twins, only Thielert in Germany has demonstrated some success. For that it can thank in some measure Diamond Aircraft, an Austrian company that has established a firm niche as a supplier of all-composite light aircraft, including the DA 42 twin-engine aircraft on display here in the static park.