In aviation, like most other industries, success breeds regulation. The bigger an industry becomes, the more the government perceives the need to regulate it, often citing reasons such as safety, unfair competition and environmental protection. Yet, in typical Darwinian fashion, most industries adapt–or die. In aviation, hush kits quiet noisier jet engines, airplanes are made RVSM compatible and helicopters are flown neighborly.
BAE Systems Regional Aircraft has completed four months of test flights in its new Avro RJX85, leaving officials “very confident” of meeting, if not exceeding, the 15- to 20-percent-enhanced fuel burn and other performance-improvement targets set for the 80- to 112-seat quad-jet.
Turbine-engine technology development is going in two directions. One is the development of new technology to push the envelope of performance, operational safety, maintainability and reliability. The other is to refine and update existing engines for long-term use, especially in light of more stringent Stage 4 requirements and existing Stage 3 rules.
A Cessna 182 recently flew from Daytona Beach, Fla., to Carlsbad, Calif, running on jet-A. The aircraft is powered by an SMA SR305-230 turbodiesel piston engine, reported AOPA. The 230-hp engine was tested at 100-percent power for the entire flight and showed a 40-percent increase in range over a regular avgas-fueled 182, according to Riley Aero International, the Carlsbad company that is developing the conversion.
Richmond Heights, Ohio-based Nextant Aerospace announced last month its 400NXT Beechjet retrofit and modernization program and Pro Line 21 cockpit upgrade for Beechjets and Hawker 400XPs.
Eurocopter EC 135P1, Washington, D.C., May 30, 2006–The NTSB determined the probable cause of the EMS helicopter crash to be the operator’s inadequate training program and the pilot’s failure to maintain control following his inadvertent disabling of the full authority digital engine control (Fadec) system.
St. Petersburg, Russia-based engine manufacturer Klimov is offering the VK800, a new turboshaft in the 600- to 1,000-shp range, as a low-cost alternative to Western helicopter engines. The company claims the engine is the first clean-sheet design since the Soviet era. Certification is pegged for 2009.
Threshold Aviation Group is evidence of evolution in action. Company CEO Mark DiLullo got hooked on aviation while in Air Force pilot training for the Air National Guard. When he returned to civilian life, he went to work for Martin Aviation in Ontario, Calif., and began building civilian flight time.
On September 10, Walled Lake, Mich.-based Williams International received FAA type certification of its new 1,568-pound-thrust FJ33-4A. The company will follow this milestone with the introduction of yet another turbofan engine.
Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) continues to consider a possible new turboprop design that could provide a sufficient advance on the PT6, which through its myriad variants offers 700 to 2,000 shp. However, for the moment at least, the manufacturer sees no immediate prospect of moving on from the ubiquitous powerplant to a new-generation engine in the same power range.