Aircraft engines: Diesel and rotary

I’ve been remiss in reading my flying magazines, since my current employment situation does not permit me the disposable income to entertain this particular hobby. It hurts to be grounded for such a stupid reason as not having the money to fly!

But I’ve started reading the June issue of AOPA Pilot. Interesting news on the powerplant front.

Maule is flying their M-9-230 with an SMA SR305 Dielsel engine. They’re hoping theirs will be the first certified aircraft in the U.S. with a Diesel engine. (The Cessna 182 has a supplemental type certificate in Europe, and Piper expects an STC for the PA-28-235 Dakota by the end of the year.) I haven’t read the whole article yet, but it looks promising.

100LL and Jet-A are close in price in the U.S. While the Diesel burns less fuel per hour than a similar piston engine, the savings may or may not make it viable in the U.S. There are a lot of small airports in the U.S., and many of them do not carry Jet-A. (Can’t imagine a Citation using a grass strip as its home base!) But in Europe Jet-A is about half the price of 100LL. This could be a good option there.

In other news, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida has been testing a Piper Arrow III with the Swiss-built, Wankel-based Mistral G-230-TS-B1A rotary engine. There are promises of 3,000-hour TBOs, and overhauls costing half the price of a piston-engine overhaul.