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Engine choices

This is one area that I was planning to sit on the fence. In keeping with our general choice principles of tried and tested for basic flight safety, an engine that is tried, tested and proven is a fundamental component. In my world, as of today, that means Lycoming, the big problem is it IS still 1960's technology, not very fuel efficient or 'intelligent'. The Suburu option was also considered and the high altitude performance is very impressive, I also like the idea of A1-Jet (diesel) power (the running costs / efficiency is MUCH better), but it is all just too new and un-proven for me at the moment, maybe something more exotic for the RV10?.

The choice of which engine went through a number of phases, something along the lines of:

  • IO-320
    • Pros: smaller, lighter, cheaper but with the benefits of injection.
    • Cons: VANs don't currently supply this type of engine. There also aren't very many of them around in NZ and the local LAMEs (A&P) don't seem to know or recognise them this tends to mean spares are also harder to get.

  • O-320
    • Pros: Small, cheap, light, tried and tested, basic engine. Well known and easy to get spares.
    • Cons: Only 160HP (which is probably plenty) but MORE would be good! No fuel injection, therefore traditional carb icing issues.

  • O-360 (180HP)
    • Pros: Tried and tested, middle of the road (in O-320 (160HP) - IO-360 (200HP) range). Well known and easy to get spares.
    • Cons: No fuel injection, therefore traditional carb icing issues.

  • IO-360 (180HP)
    • Pro: Tried and tested, getting towards the top in O-320 (160HP) - IO-360 (200HP) range. Well known and easy to get spares, fuel injection, therefore no carb icing issues.
    • Cons: Starting to get quite expensive, still using 1960's engine 'management' principles, starting hot may be a problem.

  • O-360 (180HP)
    Back to the previous option as above, I couldn't justify the extra weight and cost of the IO-360. I would learn to live with using the carb heat (again :-). Still using tried and tested 1960's engineering for fuel, mixture & ignition timing. This was the chosen option for a few months.

  • O-360 with Electronic Ignition (eg LASAR II)
    Benefits of the O-360 with at least some decent timing of the spark. This helps in the starting, idling phases of operations and is also meant to help with the smoothness of running. This was pretty much my position when I ordered the QB kit in March 2003. A decision had to be made, parts of the order depended on it (eg Cowl) and it seemed like the 'simplest' balance between traditional engine block construction and 'new' electronic timing systems.

  • O-360 w/ FADEC
    Then one evening I was chatting with Dad on the 'net and we were talking about avionics and engines. The avionics conversation was based around glass cockpit discussions and 'new' technologies that are becoming available for the home built plane market and then we started talking about engines. The phrase that stuck in my mind (this is 5+ months ago) was, "shame we will just need to get the ICE PICK out for the engine" and this started me down a path of there must be a better option.

    The research lead me to looking at the Aerosance FADEC system which is used on certified aircraft with the O-360 Parallel Valve engine block. It converts a carb'd (O-) engine into a injection engine (IO-) and uses pulse injectors for precise metered fuel to each cylinder. The system is designed to have internal and external backups and provide good automatic mixture / cooling control. VANs can also supply it as a after market kit to add to a standard lycoming O-360.

The next choice is where / who / how to get an engine. After considering a couple of NZ options, include self build and getting a local shop to build an engine for us, I decided to go with a USA sourced engine.

There are a number of options with excellent reputations, but I ended up going with Mattituck (primarily from Mahlon Russel's internet group support) and their working knowledge of the AeroSance FADEC system. I would make the same choice again in a heart beat - one of the best choices I made in the whole project.

Carl Morgan