2009 Engine Buyer’s Guide

2009 Engine Buyer's Guide

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Every airplane builder needs an engine.

OK, thats not true if you’re crafting a sailplane, well give you that. But for the rest of us, the powerplant will be among the more expensive components of the whole project, calling for extreme care in the shopping.

In general, the engine market has changed little from last year-most of the same companies are soldiering on with mature product, doin alright. The big news was the collapse of Thielert AG in Germany, whose subsidiary, Superior Air Parts, has been left to chart its own course. Rumors have circulated since last summer about possible suitors for the firm. As we went to press, Superior continued to stand alone, though we understand interest to be high in adding Superiors product line to another company’s.

Engine Components and Lycoming join Superior in continuing to supply engine parts and kits into the marketplace-in the last few years, the choices for builders seeking a conventional powerplant have either been to buy a new, certified-style engine through the kit manufacturer or purchase a “kit engine” built by a reputable shop. The high price of gasoline-both avgas and auto fuel-continues to spur interest in low-power engines for lightweight aircraft as a means of economizing. Look around here, and you’ll see some enticing options in the 70- to 100-horsepower range. Finally, the ground for new technology and auto-engine conversions remains fertile, though its another year we have not seen scores of DeltaHawk diesels or Mistral rotaries darkening the skies. New-engine development is always a challenge, requiring surprisingly deep pockets and rewarding patience and persistence over marketing. After all, you don’t fly a brochure.

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