Tuesday at Sun N Fun, Lycoming’s Senior Vice President and General Manager, Ian Walsh, announced a continuation of the company’s revitalization begun in 2004. Current projects for Experimentals include the Thunderbolt line, which is undergoing refinement and expansion of the options and a big push forward with the IO-580 powerplant. In addition, Walsh announced that Lycoming has received funding from parent company Textron to seek certification of the IO-390 and expansion of the certified IO-580 line. Those are what Walsh termed as “near term” programs, while medium-range programs include a dual-prong approach to FADEC (full-authority digital engine control). The first was described as a “plug-in approach” that could be a further development of the EPiC system being developed with Unison in the late 1990s; Walsh did not elaborate on the mechanics of the system. The other approach is a comprehensively computer-controlled system. When asked how Lycoming would avoid the pitfalls of competitor Continental in selling a FADEC, Walsh replied that costs would have to be controlled to make it viable in the marketplace. On the longer-term front, Walsh announced that Lycoming’s “heavy fuel” engine continues in development, with the first iteration likely to be (or be like) the opposed six-cylinder engine shown at Oshkosh in 2006. Walsh reiterated that the Thunderbolt line is likely to grow and that development taken in the Experimental sector is expected to be phased back into the production side of the house.
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