Sunday, September 13, 2009

Labor Day 2009 (Part 3 of 3)

The aviation industry has always had its ups and downs.
It seems like we've been on the "down side" for the past year or so. This Labor Day series is dedicated to those who might be new to the industry, perhaps recently enough to have only witnessed the "up cycle" until now, and are wondering what's going on.
On our distinguished predecessor blog, Eclipse Aviation Critic-NG, there was a truly excellent discussion of the economics involved with this current cycle (See Feb 06, 2009 Eclipse Is Dead-Long Live Eclipski, and go to "page 2" Eclipse_Deep_Throat, Feb 10, 8:26 AM).
An very informative discussion of, amongst other things, economic cycles. (Wikipedia has a nice article for those of us who need a primer on the topics that were discussed then: Business Cycles).

"In 1860, French economist Clement Juglar identified the presence of economic cycles 8 to 11 years long, although he was cautious not to claim any rigid regularity. Later, Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter argued that a Juglar cycle has four stages: (i) expansion (increase in production and prices, low interests rates); (ii) crisis (stock exchanges crash and multiple bankruptcies of firms occur); (iii) recession (drops in prices and in output, high interests rates); (iv) recovery (stocks recover because of the fall in prices and incomes). In this model, recovery and prosperity are associated with increases in productivity, consumer confidence, aggregate demand, and prices.

In the mid-20th century, Schumpeter and others proposed a typology of business cycles according to its periodicity, so that a number of particular cycles were named after their discoverers or proposers:
-the Kitchin inventory cycle of 3–5 years;
-the Juglar fixed investment cycle of 7–11 years (often identified as 'the' business cycle);
-the Kuznets infrastructural investment cycle of 15–25 years (after Simon Kuznets);
-the Kondratiev wave, or long technological cycle of 45–60 years (after Nikolai Kondratiev).

The Wikipedia goes on to caution that "Interest in these different typologies of cycles has waned since the development of modern macroeconomics, which gives little support to the idea of regular periodic cycles."

(Maybe true, but it sure seems like aviation goes is pretty close to the proposed Juglar cycle).

From what I've read, the business aviation market has had/is forecast to have the following extremes:

Peak years 1968, 1974, 1980, 1991, 1999, 2008
Trough years 1972, 1977, 1984, 1995, 2003, 2011

Which, comes out to an average, for this 40+ year period, of about 8 years per cycle.

In the March 2009 issue of Flying magazine, J. Mac McClellan has an excellent article regarding the business plan challenges faced by Eclipse Aviation (not the current Eclipse Aerospace), What Went Wrong With Eclipse , he mentions the unsustainability of the post World War 2 general aviation boom:

"But the aviation industry has deluded itself about the size of demand many times in the past. In 1946 and '47 it is believed about 50,000 airplanes were built by the manufacturers who imagined a giant demand from returning military men. The market wasn't there and dozens of airplane manufacturers went out of business, and it took at least 15 years to build the next 50,000 airplanes. There was a spectacular boom in the late 1970s with total GA production reaching about 18,000 airplanes in both 1978 and '79. A few years later production rates dropped to one-tenth of that number, and at the low end not even 1,000 airplanes per year were built."

Now THAT was a rough time. The mid-1980's collapse brought big changes (including bankruptcy of Piper, and Beech bought by Raytheon, Cessna bought by General Dynamics, and then by Textron, and Learjet -already owned by Gates- bought by Bombardier). These calamitous times were well documented by Scott E. Tarry, in a June 22, 1995 article in Transportation Journal (The rise and fall of general aviation: product liability, market structure, and technological innovation.; This is an excellent article- long, but detailed- the single best one I have read; remember, it was written in 1995, so our current perspective is a bit different).

Quoting from this same article,

"Following the recession in the early 1970s, production rates began to increase very rapidly, from 7,466 units in 1971 to 17,000 in 1977 - an increase of more than 125 percent in six years. Production in recent years is a trickle when compared to the heyday of general aviation. The numbers are compelling: Since reaching a peak of 17,811 shipments of light aircraft in 1979, U.S. production plummeted to 811 units in 1993, a decline of 95.5 percent."

That was a really tough time. But, the industry recovered a few years later. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association has GAMA sales figures for the current decade available on-line:

2000 2,816, $8.5 B
2001 2,994, $13.8 B
2002 2,432, $11.8 B
2003 2,686 $10.0 B
2004 2,963 $ 11.9 B
2005 3,580 $15.1 B
2006 4,053 $18.8 B
2007 4,272 $21.9 B
2008 3,967 $24.7 B

(Amazingly, considering current difficulties, 2008Q4 was the all-time billing high, $6.8B; great news, if it were still 2008: GAMA reports for the first half of 2009, units down 45%, billings down 21%, compared to the first half of 2008).

And it's not just general aviation that faces cyclical demand, note the Boeing deliveries on this chart. Pretty up-and-down too. (I cannot explain why the Airbus deliveries are more stable- anyone? More Boeing versus Airbus shipment information here).

Things might seem bleak now, and they are, and might get a little bit worse yet. But, the industry has been through it before, and although many of us are rightfully wondering Will General Aviation Survive? (article circa 1995), from observing historical patterns, yes, it will. Our thoughts are with each one who is in a difficult way until the recovery begins.


baron95 said...

Nice post Phil - well researched and posing interesting questions. Well done.

Phil Bell said...

Hi Baron,
It was fun to do the article.

The discovery of the story by Tarry, from 1995, of the "Rise and Fall of GA" was especially a nice find, and was a very good "documentary" of that period. The 1980's were a really tough time in GA- I hope our readers keep that in mind, when contemplating the current challenges. Re: things might seem bleak, but they will -eventually- get better. (We all hope it is sooner, rather than later).

baron95 said...

I don't think there is much question if GA will survive - likely it will.

The question in my mind is - why when population is up, disposable income is way up, all expensive hobbies from Ferraris to mega-yachts are way up, is light GA in a 3 decade long slide?

What irks me is that people in the industry either ignore the decline or point the finger outside the industry (high oil prices, liability insurance, etc).

Oil prices make fueling a mega-yacht *a lot* more expensive - some of them actually use turbine engines - yet their sales are generally trending up.

Liability insurance is way up for gynecologists and jet ski manufacturers by *A LOT* - still babies continue to be delivered in record numbers and jet skis are buzzing all around.

No. The industry just can't face it that they had a stagnating product line.

A modest improvement in performance/fit/finish brought about by Cirrus/diamond composites was enough to take over 50% of the piston industry in one decade.

An outside company - Garmin - also, within a decade and 1/2 put all other light-GA avionics manufacturers pretty much out of the game and got pretty close to 100% market share.

What is that? PROOF POSITIVE that the GA product was stagnant. Not due to lack of options. Simply the light-GA dinosaurs didn't want to invest. Three brand new start ups came in and scooped up the market.

And *A LOT* more is up for grabs. Through poor execution and some tough breaks Eclipse stumbled. So did the DJet, otherwise light Jet would have been taken aways as well by the start ups.

The light GA incumbents - from airframe to avionics to piston engines - are devoid of ideas and the will to innovate.

Until that changes, or a well funded new entrant comes along, light GA will just continue to decay. Fewer private pilots, fewer private planes on the registry, fewer hours being flow. That trend hasn't changed in 3 decades.

baron95 said...

From previous thread - yes Whytech - thanks for the correction - China is showing A WAY. A way that works for them. They are learning from us - and doing much better. We in the US used slave labor, killed off the natives, burned open coal for *A LOT* longer than the Chinese are doing.

Until the US weighs EVERY decision in the light of "does that make us more or less internationally competitive?", we will continue to undermine our citizens and our economy.

baron95 said...

I haven't seen this posted here before, so here it is.

Diamond has prepared a very nice flying in July/09, including a DJet update and prelim performance data.

I think it is a nice read.

baron95 said...

For those less eager to are the highlights. I think this data is critical for the personal jet discussions:

New Djet Price in Aug/09 US$: 1.89M (up 25%)

Cruise Performance @FL250: 315 KTAS @ 500 lbs/hr - WOW that is thirsty!!!!

An 800lbs payload can be flown 700nm IFR (prob 600nm NBAA) but that is at 300KTAS.

15min climb to FL250.

There you have it. That is the best you can get for $1.89M some time in the FUTURE.

WhyTech said...

"The question in my mind is - why when population is up, disposable income is way up, all expensive hobbies from Ferraris to mega-yachts are way up, is light GA in a 3 decade long slide?"

Baron, pay attention! I have posted the answer to your question many times, and you still dont get it. ;-)

Owner flown GA acft simply provide too little utility for the dollars and effort involved. It simply takes too much effort to get some benefits. Anyone can drive a car or operate a boat of some size. Almost everone has or can easily obtain a driver's license, and typically no license is required for a boat. No pilot certificate, flight review, logbook endorsements, type rating, medical certificate, annual inspection, etc needed.

bill e. goat said...

Hi Baron,
I apologize for my testy response on the last thread- and for unintentionally not editting it before I hit the "post" button).

I have revised it to improve the tone- I please guilty by way of my own "temporary Tourettes" :)

(I still suspect a little Devil's Advocacy is in play at times. But, as such, it presents a good opportunity for one to polish their re-butt-al skills :)

Beedriver said...

Interesting the numbers on the Djet. that works out to 4.22 gal per NM not a huge amount worse than my AEST 5.5 Gal per NM. running at 240 knots and running the engines at the conditions required to keep the engines alive for 200 hours at Max TIT of 1550.

It is interesting, if the proposed diesels were available for my AEST, I would cruise at 260 knots on about 8 Gal of jet A per NM. I would also have an hour more range for a useful range of about 1000 NM with reserves of an hour and and a half

Beedriver said...

on the aircraft business, I think Cirrus and diamond just picked off the new airplane segment of their market. In the 4 to 6 place single engine market there are about 40,000 airplanes out there still flying as near as I can tell. Most of that market is served by recycling already flying single engine airplanes. There are so many good used airplanes with basically the same performance as the diamond and cirrus that can be up graded to basically the same equipment Glass and all with new engines for 1/2 the price of the new Cirrus or Diamond that while the market looks small it is really quite large but the new products only offer a slight advantage over good used equipment.

A telling data point on the real activity is that in the 6 cylinder gasoline aircraft engine 520, 540, 550 etc displacement about 12,000 engines a year are manufactured, remanufactured, or rebuilt. This is a measure of the actual business activity in that segment for both new and used aircraft. If we measure the new engines used for Cirrus and Diamond of the 6 Cyl variety, it is much less, much more like 500 engines per year. Thus most of the demand is being satisfied by the existing fleet not new aircraft.

Beedriver said...

On my previous post about Djet fuel millage, the number 200 should be 2000 hours of engine life. If I could run the TIO 540 engines at peak efficiency, I would actually get about 6.7 NM per gal of gasoline.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Beedriver, spot on re: the size and utility of the existing fleet - it is the primary reason for stagnating sales of new, not a lack of innovation.

The short-body Mooney for example can be brought up to truly impressive standards, using in many cases TC parts for much later models, I have seen late '60's D models with glass panels, 160 kt cruise speeds on 7-8 gph fuel flows - that's 20mpg at almost 200 mph.

The largest potential area of innovation (and business) in GA, outside of glass panel upgrades (Aspen, Garmin) is retrofit of turbo-diesel powerplants into former big-bore gas planes, but the diesels are not there yet technoclogically or economically. Imagine a Malibu with a 350hp turbo-diesel that could actually see a full TBO and burn 15-20% less fuel - THAT would be a killer.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Phil, great headline post, well written and equally well researched!

Keep it up.

Beedriver said...

Cold Wet.

that would be an impressive engine. I am currently working with a group to obtain funding that is developing a 350 Hp (at atitude) diesel that is size, shape and configuration compatible with existing 520 and 540 engines. These guys are truly knowledgeable about engines and They have brought over 20 engine designs into high volume production plus, for example, have solved the problem of putting an aluminum propeller on a 4 cylinder aviation diesel with out using any friction clutch system and it is a system that is good for the life of the engine without maintenance.

They embody the axiom that if you truly want to develop something new find a few really smart people to do it. They have the smarts, knowledge, the industry connections, and the intellectual flexibility to listen to others to actually succeed.

Let me know if you want to know more. Shane knows my particular's

Turboprop_pilot said...

CW & Beeeedriver:

A 400 HP turbodiesel on a Malibu would be the answer- The airframe is efficient but climb and takeoff should be improved for the plane to be as good as it should be. Hope your friends are successful.

baron95 said...

You guys can't be serious. A 400 HP diesel engine would be a *HUGE* hit on the Malibu's useful load.

Go to the Diamond site and take a look at the DA42 TDI, TDING (Austro) and the L-180 Lycoming.

The gasoline L-180 plane just blows the other two out of the water.

Aero-diesels are an answer to FUEL AVAILABILITY ONLY. Not an answer for better performance or reliability.

For the same budget price, a gasoline engine will blow any diesel out of the water.

E.g. just think if you could have a $60K budget for the Lycoming 180, like the Austro. If you added the high-pressure common rail direct injection, FADEC and a reduction gear to run it at 3,500 RPM.

People get off comparing a $60K diesel to a $20K gas engine and draw the wrong conclusions.

Diesels exist in airplanes due to fuel availability only and on automobiles due to European preferential taxation of diesel.

There are NO performance benefits.

That is why on a free market like the US, diesel's are nowhere to be seen (yet).

baron95 said...

Obviously, the fix for the Malibu has already been done. It is the gas-turbine version called the Meridian or JetProp conversion.

The way to improve on that is to have a lower cost gas turbine engine. Maybe a future evolution of the RR500 or similar.

I really pity any company that is throwing money at a diesel engine for the Malibu.

What a money loser that will be.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Baron, I was about to write an eloquent well researched response to your diatribe, but decided not to waste my time or yours. Suffice it to say I believe you are quite wrong about a great number of things re: the potential for a good aero diesel.

Beedriver, I will put a note through Shane, that's a project I may be be interested in.

Beedriver said...

Some real numbers on diesel vs gasoline vs turboprops.

The best turboprops have a fuel consumption of .65 Lb/ hp hr. most turboprops are much worse. the PT6 is estimated at .75 lb / Hp hr
Best 100 LL engines at lean of peak provide .44 lbs/hp hr. fuel consumption the actual 100ll engine on the malibu about .55 lb/hphr to keep it alive.Diesels operate at .38 lb/ hp hr

costs, the TIO 540 used in the Malibu costs about $100,000 firewall forward with propeller turbos etc. The PT6 used in it costs at least $350,000 the 350 Hp diesel (maybe 400) will cost in the neighborhood the same as the TIO 540 used in the Malibu.

I know what it costs to rebuild the 350 Hp TIO 540 as I just re did them in my Aerostar. A high quality rebuild without accessories costs about $45,000 A factory reman, no accessories, $55,000 and a factory new engine was $67,000 with out the prop turbos exhaust, waste gates, turbo controller etc.

The V8 Thielert tried to build is an auto engine (a good one) modified to go in an airplane. it has fuel specifics of .38 lb hp hr but is way too heavy and even worse is the wrong shape for anything but a single. The 4.4 L and 5.7 L Diesels out there are used on boats and trucks and put out 300 to 400 Hp continuously for life times of 4 or 5000 hours.

It will not be simple to build a diesel aircraft engine weight size and shape compatible with TIO 540 and 520 engines but they predict if done right (If you don't you get the Thielert Centurion 4.0) it will fit into existing twin and single airframes, and provide more useable Hp at altitude with better fuel specifics than any gasoline engine and far better than any turboprop. They have some patented technology that allows this and far more importantly they have been instrumental in bringing over 20 advanced design engines into production for names like VW, Ford, at volumes up to 700,000 engines per year.

It will be interesting to see if they can pull it off however it must be done right or they will fail like Thielert.

By the way the RR 500 is not any better or more efficient than the other TP engines Robinson is very dissatisfied with what he got for his new R66 It works fine but is not substantially more efficient or cheaper than the competitors. I hear he is paying about $350,000 per engine in quantities of several hundred per year. The most efficient TP out there are the Garretts being about 20% better than the PT 6

julius said...


Diesels exist in airplanes due to fuel availability only ...

this is one major point.

Do you think anybody is going to invest in new common rail high pressure injections GA 100LL engines plus reduction gear?
Perhaps, if it is based on an automotive engine and may also use automotive gasoline in a/cs.

When do you expect the first 250 hp turbine engine including reduction gear, which is competetive in the sub FL80 altitudes and substitudes a "normal" engine?


baron95 said...

Beedriver said...The best turboprops have a fuel consumption of .65 Lb/ hp hr. most turboprops are much worse. the PT6 is estimated at .75 lb / Hp hr
Best 100 LL engines at lean of peak provide .44 lbs/hp hr. fuel consumption the actual 100ll engine on the malibu about .55 lb/hphr to keep it alive.Diesels operate at .38 lb/ hp hr


2 - Now calculate the installed weight of the 550HP flat-rated Meridian engine and a 550HP flat-rated diesel. You will be shocked.

michal said...

"What is that? PROOF POSITIVE that the GA product was stagnant. "

You have already written it 100 times. And so what? The only think it proves is that there are always companies ready to innovate - it happens in all industries. It however doesn't PROVE anything about why there are fewer pilots. So do you have anything new to contribute?

baron95 said...

So do you have anything new to contribute?
Yes, do you?

Cirrus themselves (and other observers) have commented that Cirrus drew a disproportionally high number of NEW TO GA pilots. And the same is true with some of the LSA new entrants. And the same will (likely) be true when the Djet is in the market.

Point is a lot of potential pilots took a look and passed on GA until Cirrus (and Diamond) came along. And more will do the same when standards of fit, finish, avionics, propulsion improve.

I don't know if it will be 100, 1000 or 10000 new pilots, but I can tell you from personal experience that some people with interest and means will NOT bother with the Cessna and Piper and Mooney piston singles.

michal said...

"Point is a lot of potential pilots took a look and passed on GA until Cirrus (and Diamond) came along. "

Where is this coming from? Hangar talk? Where is the PROOF? And even if it were true you keep contradicting yourself - so they have the Cirrus/Diamonds/Garmin and why are the pilots not sticking around? Why Cirrus had to lay off people? If your logic was anywhere connected with reality everybody else would be bankrupt but Cirrus would be working 24/7 building planes.

baron95 said...

julius said...
Do you think anybody is going to invest in new common rail high pressure injections GA 100LL engines plus reduction gear?

This is a great question Julius. People above are focusing on Diesel as performance play. The Diesel developments in aviation come obout because of the fuel availability and price in Europe and other places.

Now, it just so happens that if you pitch 2009 Diesel technology against 1960s AvGas technology, particularly Lycoming, the Diesels look viable.

But if you look at ROTAX and Prosche/Mooney PFM in the 80s(the last gas-powered new engines certified in GA), you can get a glimpse of what is possible. Add another 20 years of refinement and you can see that there would be no contest in performance if you gave two organizations the same budget to spend on a gas-engine vs a diesel-engine.

The power density of DI turbo gas engine derived from say Porsche or BMW would be head and shoulders above a diesel variant of the same cost and the same R&D budget.

But without the Euro market to amortize costs on the non-av-gas market, I don't think such a project will come to pass.

If I were given a mission to produce an auto derived 550HP-class piston engine for the Meridian airframe, I'd NOT start with a diesel.

And most designers tasked with that mission only, would not either. The plane simply could not carry the weight of a 550HP class diesel engine. Volvo (trucks) has one of the most sophisticated engines in that class. Hint you'd need to hand a PT6 at the tail of the Meridian just to balance the weight of the Volvo upfront. Well, never mind, the airframe would prob snap in half with that beast upfront.

It would never rotate, so to speak ;)

I don't know if Beedriver is talking about DeltaHawk or a similar effort. All I can say is - good luck.

RonRoe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
baron95 said...

Just one point along the lines of fuel availability that can make diesel's viable.

The US military (and others) whant to standardize on diesel/jet fuel. They want to get rid of avgas and gasoline in general, including for the high endurance drones.

So it is likely that that a market will be created for diesel-aero engines for this added reason, in addition to the civilian fuel availability/cost reason.

But it will not be for performance reasons.

baron95 said...

michal said...
And even if it were true you keep contradicting yourself - so they have the Cirrus/Diamonds/Garmin and why are the pilots not sticking around?

Because Cirrus does not have the resources or access to modern powerplants. Only in the past 3 months has Cirrus even achieved table stakes - 180kts+FIKI+G1000/SVS.

They don't have pressurization and if you ever tried to put an O2 mask on a 18 months old you would know why that is important. Diamond similarly had to delay their DA50 pressurized project.

Both companies don't have the resources to bring their jets to market. They don't have the resources to bring pressurization to market. They don't have the resources to develop 400HP-class turbocharged piston powerplants. They don't have the resources to develop 5-6 place airframes, etc, etc, etc.

It takes an ecosystem of innovation to move an industry forward. No single company can do it by itself. You saw what happened when Eclipse (having correctly identified the need for integrated flight deck) tried to do it by themselves.

Fact is that an IFR personal transportation machine needs FIKI, needs Glass/SVS/autopilot integration, needs pressurization, needs space (5 seats +), needs 200kts+ to fly high against head winds.

Anything less is too deficient.

Diamond and Cirrus will likely get there eventually (decades), except that they still need a 400-500HP-class piston engine to fill the gap.

baron95 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
baron95 said...

RonRoe said...
I would not switch to a diesel just for a .01 lb/hp/hr immprovement in fuel economy.
Particularly when it costs twice as much, weighs almost twice as much, has a TBO that is half and is unproven.


You couldn't find AvGas within 200 miles and Avgas cost 4 times as much as diesel - which so hapepns to be the case in Austria ;)

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

I didn't say anything about saving $.01, don't think Beedriver did either. I too have flown 550's LOP and seen FF in the 12-14gph range at 9-11,000 feet - but that was when 100LL was $2.50-3.00/gal and available anywhere in the US.

I mentioned the Malibu specifically because it has an attrocious record of not making TBO. But a good mill could also apply to Aerostars, Barons, Bonanza's, Cherokee Six's and Saratoga's, 340's, 421's, etc.

A good aero-diesel would NOT be the Austro, it would feature modern metalurgy and machining for weight savings, FADEC for maximum economy and accurate operation, and it would simply have to be economically comparable to the current crop of big bore sixes and eights in use - something the RR or Allison or Pratt's cannot (and IMO will not) be able to do.

The aero-diesel would be a big-picture play, not simply or only fuel burn, but fuel burn, reliability, single lever operation, overhaul cost and eventually fuel availability.

But there can be no legitimate discussion because Baron knows more about these things than those of us who actually make our living in the industry.

You know, we same dinosaurs who are stuck with stagnant products and who are afraid of change (like suggesting putting diesels into any of the thousands of high-performance planes, or Aspen glass) guess Vern was right and we are a bunch of luddite rubes. (INSERT ROLLEYE SMILEY HERE)

Why do I bother....

gadfly said...

Cold Fish

You asked, "Why do I bother" . . . and I would echo that with "He that is convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still!"

Frankly, there hasn't been enough to fill a thimble with facts and/or intelligent give and take . . . or even opinion for a long time.

Please give me a wake-up call if an intelligent comment should come across the computer monitor in the not too distant future. In the mean time, I'm extremely busy with other things that may have some real impact on the lives of those around me. And time, being what it is, . . . I'll spend it carefully . . . since this life on planet earth is not the end. If it were, I'd be most depressed.

Hey . . . maybe I just solved the problem . . . "Selah" . . . "pause and think about it".


(And by the way, my sock drawer is still in shambles.)

KnotMPH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
julius said...


You couldn't find AvGas within 200 miles and Avgas cost 4 times as much as diesel - which so hapepns to be the case in Austria ;)

at which airport in Austria (or are you talking about Australia?) do you pay that much?
Its's about € 1.10 /l Diesel and about €1.8 /l 100LL in Austria!

BTW: A C172 with Thielert's new 2.0 S engine (155 hp) is approx. 25 kg heavier than the original with the IO 360 L2A and is better above 3000ft (speed, climb, burn rate). Below 3000ft at standard conditions the Thielert is about the original.


airsafetyman said...

"They don't have the resources to develop 400HP-class turbocharged piston powerplants."

The TSIOF-550J FADEC engine by Continental delivers 350 HP, and the TSIO-550A Continental delivers 360 HP. The fact that Cirrus puts an aftermarket turbonormalized version of the standard IO-550 in their "turbocharged" version just shows a very poor management choice by Cirrus. The powerplants are available right now.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

ASM, I actually prefer the aftermarket turbo installations, the guys at RCM, M20 and Tornado Alley due some fantastic design work and seem able to truly extract amazing performance, although the B36TC factory installation may be one of the cleanest turbo installations ever.

bill e. goat said...

There might be hope for Mary yet!

"That demographic includes people that general aviation has not traditionally approached before, like professional women.

"One key to reaching these new audiences, Boatman says, will be to reach beyond the traditional motivations of aviation as a heroic adventure or an effective business tool (both still valid) and sell 'flying as a path to personal growth and challenge.'"

Anyone watching me practice "bounce and gos" will concur- aviation is both a heroic adventure and personal challenge.

(And a particularly promising business opportunity for the insurance and medical industries).

Mary- you go, girl !!

bill e. goat said...

As much as it surprises (and pains! :) me, I agree with Baron (!?!), regarding the curious decline in the number of pilots.

WT makes good points about why there are not more pilots.

But if I understand Baron's point, it's why has there been a -decline- in the number of pilots. WT's points are valid, and timeless, truths: as such, they make the question of why the decline in pilots now (now being the past 20-30 years) more puzzling.

airsafetyman said...

"ASM, I actually prefer the aftermarket turbo installations"

The cylinders in an IO-550 that has been normalized with an aftermarket turbo are not designed for that high a power setting continously, that's why there have been so many instances of premature cylinder removals. Continental would be happy to provide a TSIO-550 to Cirrus, and provide installation engineering.

bill e. goat said...

Hello Gadfly,
Selah (?)

I hope things are going well. Best wishes for those you are helping.

(And with your socks! :)

(...I've decided that properly folded socks are a mark of... proper society, of orderly thinking. I wonder if Bill Gates or Steve Jobs fold socks...)

bill e. goat said...

"Until the US weighs EVERY decision in the light of "does that make us more or less internationally competitive?", we will continue to undermine our citizens and our economy."

What competition are you proposing?
The cleanest air?
The best schools?
The strongest democracy?
The freest press?
The safest cities?

Or the lowest wages.

"we will continue to undermine our citizens and our economy."

The goal of short term corporate profit has been undermining both.

THAT's where the Chinese are kicking our asses. The tax and incentive policies of their government which rewards long-term planning.

The old saying (communist, fittingly enough): "A capitalist will sell the rope used to hang himself" addresses just this short-term profit mentality.

bill e. goat said...

"General Aviation in the last 15 - 20 years has introduced cheap handheld navcoms, IFR certified color GPS navigation...The preceding 20 years produced 720 channel comms and flip flop circuits with some fanfare."

You failed to mention, the even-more preceding 20 years brought forth the ERcoupe!!

"There is no special tax considerations for a business using a horse for transport and aviation should be little different."

Ha ha- I generally agree. About that, and most tax deductions. But, as in the case of farm subsidies, I concede they are an important aspect of national security policy. And aviation, I believe, is an important industry to stimulate (yes, maybe indirectly subsidize), for the same reason- national security.

(Of course, the same could be said of paying off the national debt, and developing a national energy policy...)

bill e. goat said...

I'm curious about the pollution aspects of a diesel piston engine. I hear the new automotive diesels are "clean", but have my reservations. The fact you can't see the toxins, doesn't mean they aren't there. (And doesn't mean that they are). Any information on this topic available? (I tried, and couldn't really find any, other than "clean" diesels are less bad/more better than "dirty" ones.

baron95 said...

CW said...You know, we same dinosaurs who are stuck with stagnant products and who are afraid of change....

Do you have an issue with FACTS?

30 years ago, Cessna, Piper, Beech, Mooney were producing several thousand light piston GA planes per year.

Now, the produce 1/20th of that and Since then...

Piper has been bankrupt and sold in distressed cramdowns multiple times.

Cessna has been sold in distressed cramdowns twice, has stopped making piston planes for more than a decade - mid 80s to late 90s.

Mooney has filed for bankruptcy multiple times.

Beech has been sold in distressed twice.

BendixKing, Narco and the likes went out of business or became irrelevant product lines.


Companies that didn't exist 30 years ago (some didn't exist till recently) - Cirrus, Garmin, Diamond, etc - came in and walked away with the piston and avionics market.

So yes - I think Mooney and Piper and Bendix King line were "extinguished" due to lack of innovation.

And I am sure they all thought they were doing just fine all along.

You, too? :)

baron95 said...

Julius said...BTW: A C172 with Thielert's new 2.0 S engine (155 hp) is approx. 25 kg heavier than the original with the IO 360 L2A and is better above 3000ft (speed, climb, burn rate). Below 3000ft at standard conditions the Thielert is about the original.

And I wonder why Cessna canceleld plans to offer the C172TDI!!!! Hummm.....

WOW - An engine certified in 2008 has the same performance as and engine certified 40 years earlier that costs half as much to buy and 4 times less to maintain over 2,000 hrs.

And THAT is progress????!!!!????

Sorry - lest try again.

P.S. Didn't mean to pick on Austria - was just using it as a place holder for places with low avgas availability. UK would have been a better example.

baron95 said...

BEG said...I hear the new automotive diesels are "clean", but have my reservations.

WHere did you hear that ? ;)

You'd have to fly with a tank full of urine derivative to inject in the exhaust stream to make it a bit cleaner.

Lets see...there is the Diesel fuel tank....the TKS deice fluid tank....the engine coolant tank....and the PIST tank....Isn't Diesel so great?

baron95 said...

So the air in China much dirtier than the air in LA or Pitsburg at a comparative point in our economic development?

Are the Chinese citzens really that much less free than native Americans, affrican American or jews in say Germany in the wests recent past?

Be careful throwing rocks when you have a glass roof.

IN TIME China too will develop individual protections and cleaner air and safer cars.....but I think even you would agree that those are a bit secondary to the prospect of tens of millions of citzens starving to death - which was a very real prospect in CHina until very recently.

So it goes like that.....SURVIVAL...then prosperity...then altruism.

L said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Luke said...

bill.e.goat said...
I'm curious about the pollution aspects of a diesel piston engine. I hear the new automotive diesels are "clean", but have my reservations. The fact you can't see the toxins, doesn't mean they aren't there. (And doesn't mean that they are). Any information on this topic available?

As an engineer who worked for a major automotive diesel engine manufacturer for a couple years (hint: it is located in Indiana and produces engines for Dodge trucks), I can assure you that "clean" diesels are actually clean -- orders of magnitude more clean then older diesels.

The two primary classes of diesel emissions are particulates (essentially tiny carbon particles) and NOx. Clean diesels capture the particulates in a diesel particulate filter (DPF), which is made of ceramic and is periodically (typically 10-60 minutes) regenerated by heating it to burn off the accumulated carbon (i.e., convert it to CO2).

The other primary emission is NOx. Diesels cannot use the 3-way catalyst that gasoline engines use because diesels run lean, so they must use another method, such as adding urea to the exhaust to convert the NOx back to N2 and O2.

It's worth noting that many of the "clean diesel" innovations, which are introduced in the '07 and '10 model years by federal mandate, have been facilitated by low-sulfur diesel fuel. If memory serves, the diesel fuel limit was changed from 500 ppm sulfur to 15 ppm sulfur sometime in '07. High sulfur content poisoned the new particulate filters.

Hope this helps... if diesels are used in aviation applications, they will almost certainly be exempted from the cumbersome aftertreatment devices used in trucks.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Baron I am through trying with you, I don't know if you are trying to be deliberately obtuse, contrarian or just believe your stuff so closely that you are incapable of considering alternative viewpoints but I am done trying.

The inconsistency (and in some cases outright internal conflict) in the positions you map out are just too much for me. Have fun.

julius said...


interesting ideas on China...

Most of the country's problems - in the past and now - could be solved by democrathy and not by the "Cultural Revolution" or the current poltical cadres.

It's so easy to pollute water, the soil, the coast lines for decades - if one is not forced to clean up these basic systems for our life.

BTW: The Thielert engine is not certified, not finished...and the company isn't "fixed" although there is a positive cash flow.
Maybe there are already better solutions for non 100LL piston engines or 200hp engines...

So you propose... oppose ... - what so ever - to use hmmmmm ...for C172s in "Austria" where 100LL is too expensive or not available?!


airtaximan said...

Now, the produce 1/20th of that and Since then...

because airplanes are designed more like houses than cars... designed to be around a long time... designed for the extremes... over designed, if you will...

cars can be around for a log time, but most aren't

eclipse_deep_throat said...

Thanks for the nod to one of my past posts. I'm still convinced that the Austrian Business Cycle kinda explains, at least in part, what we are going thru. With Bernakke annointed for yet another term running The Fed, I'm not sure if that is good news because of all the "too big to fail nonsense." I for one wonder if The Fed would operate a lot better if truly independent, like the Supreme Court. I am too cynical, I know, but at some level I'm certain that Bernakke knows that part of his job is to make the economy rosy in 2010 and 2012, when the Dems are up for reelection... and that HAS TO afffect his decisions today.

Baron said,
It takes an ecosystem of innovation to move an industry forward. No single company can do it by itself. You saw what happened when Eclipse (having correctly identified the need for integrated flight deck) tried to do it by themselves.

I think Baron's comment deserves underlining and highlighting. Perhaps this goes along with vertical integration of Henry Ford. Or my past analogy to equate GA with Big Pharma. If am running Pfizer and I develop **one** cure for just one form of cancer, well, that innovation is really separated from the rest of my competitors for at least 17 years. Like a massive silo or moat. Yet my competitors can try to build off my success and develop a new drug for one of the other forms of cancer my drug doesn't work on...

I'm sure GA will continue humming along at a "new normal" that is rational for this industry. It still remains a capital intensive industry, but that capital has to be used for specialized labor first (engineers, technicians) and then later allocated on technology when required by the market or Govt (FAA/EASA). I don't think other GA makers were putting their heads in the sand just to ignore the chance to innovate. They just didn't see any immediate cost benefit. For example, I was floored when Peg was trying to push assembly line robots in SP11 sometime in early 2007. I believe she even claimed that Todd Fierro agreed that it was "totally doable," and it was one of the reasons he was hired. Do robots help lower labor costs at any other GA factory????

Later I think cooler heads prevailed ....and so my point here is that *any* GA/aerospace company is stuck trying to innovate within their own micro-ecosystem: read, just inside their own factories. Hence, we see such a monumental CLUSTERF**K with Boeing. They are having the same problem Vern had. Mixing metaphors now: both have tried to conduct the orchestra while a few bad players mess up the tune. Each player is trying to maximize their own self-interest (lower cost, max profit), and so the Conductor is stuck doing the same thing, trying to wring out inefficiencies at its level. This is not surprising at American companies that don't have a culture of Lean Production, with joint ownership within the supply chain.

Considering how incestuous this biz is, Hampson is making parts for the HondaJet. So if I'm running EAC and I want Hampson to get is crap together to help MY bottom line, to a certain extent I know that there is some risk they can take that innovation to HondaJet and help my competitor. THAT, in my humble opinion, is a significat barrier to getting this ecosystem to play nicely in the sandbox.

It would almost make sense to see a new GA company emerge ...only after vertically integrating and buying up all of the smaller fish. If Taiichi Ohno solved this problem for Toyota and cars, maybe HondaJet can try the same tactic with its supply chain. But something tells me that the FTC/Federal Govt won't go along with that, even if it were Boeing trying to integrate its supply chain. So this is the ecosystem we are stuck with .....and that cost gets passed along to everyone.


FreedomsJamtarts said...

Modern diesels in aircraft:

Availablity of fuel.

The big driver for Thielerts "success" was Asia starting to do GA. They have no Avgas infrastructure, and aren't going to build one. Military's also want a single fuel. This fuel is Jet A (and it's relatives). Almost no one is running Thielerts on automotive diesel.

Cooler exhaust.
Exhaust components and turbos can be lighter.

Fuels cold characteristics. Absorbs water which can freeze, the fuel itself can get waxy when cold.

You can't build something with a 20:1 conpression to the same weight as something with 10:1, all things being equal. If you decide to use common rail injection, you start with a huge block of steel (the HP pump), and a huge steel bar (the rail). Then you add a gearbox, including a vibration isolator. Then you need huge vibration isolators in the mounts to cope with the incredible torque peak produced on shut down.

Available fuel not controlled for two of the most important parameters.
Jet A is not controlled for Cetane number or lubricity. While Cetane number has so far not seemed to be such a problem, there are some Jet fuels available (TS-1 for example) which have very poor lubricity. Commbined with the incredibly close tolerances in common rail HP pumps, reliablity on Jet A is still a question mark.

FreedomsJamtarts said...

Common misconceptions:

The efficiency of diesels.
Yes the diesel cycle is more efficent due to the higher compression. In cars the efficiency also gets a big boost because a diesel has no throttle obstructing induction airflow. In an aircraft the throttle butterfly is normally full open in cruise so that second effect is negated.

In practice, few, Avgas engines are run at their peak BSFC of around 0.40 as the penalty if one cylinder is a little too rich and is running at peak temp is too severe. In practice the aero diesels with their higher compression, and FADEC reducing fuel wastage on the ground, climb and decent do see significantly lower consumption,but it is not going to be huge cost factor in the big picture (Kind of like the few gallons Ken's Ecorpse saves).

FADEC brings efficiency.
In a car yes, because of the constantly changing load conditions. In an aircraft this effect is greatly reduced by the long periods of stable cruise operation. Manual leaning is very effective, as the human is very good at integrating the indications and "feel" of the engine. FADEC control of aero engines brings a huge improvement in airport emmisions specifically unburnt hydrocarbons(there is a swiss study on this), and a decent reduction in consumption during off-cruise operation. The LyConti's have brutally simple injection/carb systems, because there is little advantage in a FADEC calculating the optimum fuel flow 2000 times a second and coming up with the same answer each time. Why spend $50 million on developing a FADEC when the €500 mechanical FI plus a trained pilot gets 99% of the effiency, 90% of the time.

Against the FADEC is also FAR 33 and CS-E giving a strong push towards dual redundant electric and electronic controls. Given that half the cost of a Design/ certification project will disappear into the FADEC, you can see why Lycoming and Conti have not rushed into this area.

Lyconti's are dinosaurs:
These engines are very well optimised for the compromises required of them.
The current avgas engines bought their light weight through fuel cooling. At the time they were developed, fuel was cheap therefore weight was given a larger weighting in the design studies. For countries where fuel is more expensive, the trade off will favour heavier engines with adequate cooling to be robust at leaner mixtures.

Look to Detroit diesel or Volvo to see what a 350HP continuous power engine weighs if fuel efficiency and reliablity in the order of 20 000 hours are the most important design characteristics. These manufacturers are not too dumb to build light, and weight is not irrelevant in their applications, but the compromise favours BSFC and reliablity in there market. Due to the important of weight in the aero compromise, you will never see Aero Recips with TBO's an order of magnatude greater than todays.

The question is how to come up with a propulsion system which provides a better sum of compromises than the current avgas engines, combined with a functional business model.

Anyone going into this thinking it is simple to do better than the LyConti's because car engines have taken huge leaps in the last 40 years is setting up to make another "small fortune in aviation". Look at what a car manufacturer invests in a new, incremental engine generations, and at the number of units which the NRC are ammortised over.

Given the weight penalty of the Austro Engine Diesel vrs the IO-360, it will be interesting to see whether this engine forms a more successful set of compromises in todays market´. Expensive fuel, expanded GA in Asia, and a continued heathy military UAV market are probably necessary for their success.

I think there are strong parallels between Thielert and Eclipse, and agree with MacClellan that Eclipse (but also Thielert) have done tremendous damage to GA.

Shadow said...

Speaking of Peg, she just landed a job at BBA Aviation.

baron95 said...

E.D.T - Excellent post.

Yes, GA will be in the "new normal" for the foreseeable future. But that does not need to prevent innovation.

Clearly Garmin with the G3X (for LSA), G500/G600 for entry level and G1000 for mainstream, has moved truly taken the light GA cockpit to the 21st century.

Clearly Cirrus, Diamond, have shown that light GA composite airplanes can be certified, mass produced, are durable, and provide a performance advantage - e.g. DA40 with the gear down moves faster than an Arrow. They also solved the fit and finish interiors. With the DJet they may prove that it can work with pressurization as well. That construction while not a panacea, is important as an alternative to aluminum particularly if aluminum prices shoot up again (as expected).

Clearly PWC and Williams have made small turbofans practical. SFC and costs can hopefully continue to improve.

Now back to the present discussion - light GA is still significantly inhibited by the lack of more effective piston engines.

Three or four decades ago, the fuel injected Continentals had SFC, power to weight ratios, service intervals, reliability, etc that were about on par or better than the best automotive engines of the era. Now they are seriously outclassed. So there is opportunity.

Diesels are interesting - and likely will be a part of it due to fuel availability and cost in parts of the world. But their track record in aviation has been nothing short of abysmal.

CW, who used to hound Ken insisting of talking about what IS vs what will be, is trying to ignore that. A larger percentage of the GA diesel power planes is/was probably AOG than Eclipse. The most prevalent Diesel in aviation had TBR of one component (reduction gear) of 200 hours at a a huge cost. Other Diesel conversions had severe limitations like 10K ft max operating altitudes and horrible service difficulties. All that is well documented.

Can the next Diesels be better? Yes. But the track record is not good. Reliability has been horrible. And costs have been horrible. And SFC has been on par with Continental engines of 3-4 decades ago.

I'm glad people are trying, but I doubt CW would replace a Continental fuel injected engine on say a Baron or Bonanza with a diesel engine while flying in the US now or in the next 10-20 years.

baron95 said...

Freadom - our posts crossed. Very nice post also. Right on.

baron95 said...

Freedom said...Anyone going into this thinking it is simple to do better than the LyConti's because car engines have taken huge leaps in the last 40 years is setting up to make another "small fortune in aviation". Look at what a car manufacturer invests in a new, incremental engine generations, and at the number of units which the NRC are ammortised over.


A LOT of the investment in auto engines has gone into things that have little benefit to aviation. Lower emissions and flatter power/torque curves for drivability have no benefit to the pilot.

However, things like high-pressure direct injection, improved cylinder lining, ultra-lean operation, lighter materials, 100,000 miles plugs, increased service intervals, etc have real benefits.

Freedom, I think FADEC is important for workload reducing and pilot error elimination. Yes, I can lean a tuned injection continental to .40 SFC in cruise. But it is too much workload to lean two of them in IMC when I get step climbs and the like. It is also too easy level at 6,000 lean then get "climb and maintain 140" and shove the throttles forward with a lean mixture, which is not good for the engine. For that reason, I think the FADEC investment is probably warranted.

I think the biggest question for the next GA engine is: Should it be an auto derivative or a purpose built?

I do not know the answer to that. It sure would be good to capitalize on the *HUGE* auto investment in engines that GA can never match. But the track record for auto conversion has not been good either.

FreedomsJamtarts said...

Baron, While I agree that FADEC's are worthwhile for workload reduction, as long as the engine has to be certified to FAR 33 or CS-E, you end up with the ~$25 Million albatross of the design and certification costs which you can't amortize (unless through BK).

GA desperately needs FAR/CS 23 to be split up and the smaller Recips dropped into a self certified LSA type regime. Otherwise it is doomed.

Deep Blue said...

"Baron said,
It takes an ecosystem of innovation to move an industry forward. No single company can do it by itself. You saw what happened when Eclipse (having correctly identified the need for integrated flight deck) tried to do it by themselves.

EDT said: "I think Baron's comment deserves underlining and highlighting."

Indeed they do. Having tried the "solo" approach to innovation, I can attest to the overwhelming logic of a necessary ecosystem.

Another way to say it is that, in aviation, real innovation involves the industry, rather than enterprises.

Phil Bell said...

Thanks for the kind words on the headline. It's fun to "revisit" the events of the past, and compare them to today's "news". Turns out bad news isn't so "new" in GA...But, so far, there's always been an upswing. Let's trust there will be one again...

Phil Bell said...

Thanks for your great posts- the Feb one was very central to my interests in GA and Eclipse.

I've come to the conclusion it's relatively easy to build an airplane, and not too much harder to build a good airplane.

But to build a good airplane, and make a profit, seems extraordinarily difficult.

Phil Bell said...

Beedriver's diesel project is serious- any investors out there can forward their contact info and I'll relay it;

I think we've all contemplated the state of piston engines in GA. The closer I look, the more impressed I am, at even the 40 year old engines. But, it would seem, after 40 years, there ought to be some room for improvement.

I guess the challenge is half technological; and half certification and liability, as FJT and others point out.

Good luck- we're all cheering for it to come through!

Beedriver said...

On diesel pollution. once the US got the sulfur out. we were able to look at reducing the pollution from sulfur compounds in the US. Sulfur was a major polluter in both diesel and gasoline engines (and coal fired generating plants) for much of our history. Europe mandated sulfer free fuels many years ago.

A lot of the particulates in Diesel exhaust came from incomplete burning and occurred especially during acceleration when the old fuel pumps just put in excess fuel until the engine caught up. the other thing that has helped a lot is very high injection pressures and very good nozzles so the the diesel fuel is very well atomized. The new electronic controls are also very good at only putting the exact amount of fuel necessary. In addition, the new injection systems meter the fuel during the compression/power stroke to prevent the detonation that occurred in old style diesels and these new injection systems promote much cleaner burning.

Europe has emission limits for NOX three times higher than in the US. they made the decision that lower CO2 from greater efficiency was better than lower NOx. From a global warming standpoint CO2 is much worse than NOx. thus the most efficient engine is what they legislated for.

As I understand Aviation engines are exempt from emission controls at this time. In any event in order to get good fuel economy none of the fuel can be wasted thus designing the engine to completely burn the fuel will make an engine clean as well as have the best fuel economy.

Beedriver said...

The Diesel project I am working with is real but it will need to be done very well.

The existing 100LL engines may look like they did in 1950 but there has been a huge number of small improvements to the engine designs over the years that have made them very reliable and optimized for their job. Any diesel that will be able to successfully compete with the existing 520/540 engines etc. will need to be very well done.

Most of the serious Diesel aircraft engine projects have been based on converting automotive engines not starting with a clean sheet of paper and using all that has been learned about modern automotive and truck engines. in order to successfully compete with the existing technology the design will need to be very optimized. this means that it will be expensive to do as it is a clean sheet design and the problem will not be solved by just modifying an existing truck engine design like deltahawk or using automotive 4 cyl or V8 like Thielert and Austro.

SMA has done a clean sheet design that is shape compatible with existing engines but they use a mechanical fuel control and still have such severe vibration that no one has been able to certify an aluminum prop for it. It appears to have very extreme power pulses. Very little is known about SMA engines but SMA seems to have stalled out in development progress for the last 3 or 4 years.

There are a number of other small diesel engine projects but they are all underfunded and/or under talented and so far they have been interesting but with no real success.

baron95 said...

Phil Bell said...I guess the challenge is half technological; and half certification and liability, as FJT and others point out.

Hummm.....I wonder why you would say that. Diamond/Austro clearly showed that a new piston engine can be certified on an accelerated timeline and they must have been able to adequately secure liability insurance. And they did it on a relatively modest budget too.

Now, when a design is bad, like SMA, or Thielert, they can still make it through certification and then suffer field demises.

baron95 said...

Beedriver/Phill, are you implying that the Thielert and SMA programs were not serious?

Having a "serious" program is no guarantee of success. I'm sure Boeing has been very serious about the 787 in the past 2 years.

I am glad someone is investing in a new piston engine. Though, for the realities of the US market, I'd rather see a 100LL or AutoUL project, rather than yet another diesel project. But I guess, the fuel availability/cost issue overseas is too large a market to ignore.

It will be fun to watch - I personally just can't see a diesel engine beating a Continental IO engine in the US market.

Phil Bell said...

Hi Baron,
I am making no comparison to other diesel programs, or gas programs, or 787 programs.

But, I was making a comparison to other stages of technology investment opportunities, "serious" being "ready to go bricks and mortar", rather than "potential" being "pen and paper".

Regarding gas engines- the more I study, the more I am pleasantly impressed. Still, if Cessna and Diamond were "serious" about them in the past ("nuts and bolts" serious, rather than "pen and paper" serious), then there is must be something to the idea. The fact Cessna and Diamond continue to build airplanes with gas engines, also demonstrates the viability of those engines as well.

Phil Bell said...

...I do however, suggest Boeing *NOT* convert over to diesel propeller engines for the 787.

(Although a decision to do so would probably not much affect the first flight date .)

Deep Blue said...

My two cents on the diesel thread:

Forget it. Forget "combustion." And forget pistons, rods, cams, valves, turbochargers, et al.

The future? Electricity and magneto-plasma (just in case you want to go non-atmospheric in your GA craft).

Even gas turbines are antiques.

Promising in the short term are mini-turbines and micro-turbines operating in high temp ceramic and new alloy environments.

The PWC 610F is a step in the right direction but much more work yet to do.

The USAF alternative fuel program is a good bridge combustion source.

bill e. goat said...

Magneto-plasma, turbines, pistons, shimstons !

Am I the only one who can see the future of personal air transportation around here!?!

(Why am I the only one who thinks of these things! Or hears the voices, or sees the giant spiders...)

FreedomsJamtarts said...

Ceramic micro turbines...

This has been the obvious "next big leap" since the sixties. Don't hold you breath waiting for the ceramic which can provide the necessary creep resistance at operating temperature and not go ping after a few thermal cycles.

To Barons comment that Austro Engine certified a new diesel pretty quickly, it will be interesting to see whether they amortize the $50 Million development and certification costs they stated in Aerokurier through sales , or whether these costs will be wiped in a BK sooner or later? I hope they are successful. Given the current FAR 33/CS-E, I think taking an OTS automotive core is the only viable option. I really hope Mistral are successful, as the Wankel offers some unique advantages as an aero engine (Power to frontal area, power to weight, internally balance components/low vibration, dual ignition). Though this also seems an underfunded venture.

I also think the resources the automotive industry is investing in battery and fuel cell technology may well provide the basis for 2 seat LSA trainers to be electric powered within a decade, and decent four seat tourers in two decades.

bill e. goat said...


"Promising in the short term are mini-turbines and micro-turbines operating in high temp ceramic and new alloy environments."


So the Trebuch-Jet may be a bit too ...disruptive, for most folks. Shall we say, for "general" aviaiton.

Maybe the "small turbine in a coffee can" idea is the answer to light aircraft. The smaller, the more affordable, I should think- I have an ill suspicion that while efficiencies drop worse than linearly with size, price might increase worse than linearly with size.

(Thinking of "yields" in silicon wafers- I suspect the same logic might apply to high tech ceramic and crystiline turbine materials).

? 2500 pounds-ish? If there were some LSA-ish rules for a 4-seater, with a $60K engine, then maybe this would "take off", market-wise.

There was a lot of good discussion about the vulnerablitiy of the Williams engine, with "grapefruit sized" turbines (not sure if that's quite the jargon Williams used...) Bird strikes, big bugs, little rocks, etc, all seemed to spell misfortune for such a small and delicate engine.

Well now, don't dispair. How about we bury that little bugger behind some nice protective sheet metal, and make it a turboprop instead? Some ducting and gear reduction losses.

But, some efficiency gains too. This graph of efficiencies this would provide some encouragement for such an approach.

bill e. goat said...

Regarding that turboprop idea...
Here's the Ruskie Bear bomber
Versus the Good Ole USA B-52, turboprop versus turbofan;

Length_______162 ft 5 in____159 ft 4 in
Wingspan_____167 ft 8 in____185 ft 0 in
Height_______39 ft 9 in____40 ft 8 in
Wing Area____3330 sq ft____4000 sq ft
Empty Wt_____198,000 lb____185,000 lb
MTOW_________414,500 lb____488,000 lb
Max Speed____510 knots____560 kt
Wing Sweep___35 deg.____35 deg.
Service Ceil__45,000 ft____50,000 ft
Ferry Range__8,100 nm____8764 nm
First Flight__12-Nov-52____15-April-52


I suppose the question arises, how many does each one carry?

The answer: too many. Let's hope the cold war never gets as warm as it threatened to become a couple of decades ago...

baron95 said...

LOL B.E.G. The problem is NO ONE has ever seen a Bear doing a level 510 kts and a lot of the other figures, are, lets say suspect.

It is a nice plane and all...but...

Deep Blue, I too think that Electricity will find its way to GA. But my time horizon is about twice as long as yours.

Why? Electric systems (motors, etc) are relatively low tech, highly reliable----AND --- MOST IMPORTANT --- adapting automotive/electric drives from cars to planes are a lot more straightforward than pistons. No fuel leaning, no piston heating/cooling issues, etc, etc, etc.

If only it were to easy to improve battery power density by a factor of 40!!! Yes - that is what it would take for mainstream planes.

Beedriver said...

There is no shortage of new ideas out there for new engines
this is a fun one

It is a double opposed piston single crankshaft engine. they actually have one running but because of the opposed piston design they can use none of the trick the Europeans have developed to make the new group of diesel car and truck engines very clean and efficient. (they have to inject fuel from the side and there is no way to introduce swirl in the intake gas)

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

There is a bright spot in the malaise:

Quest Aircraft, maker of the Kodiak bushplane has been awarded a Production Certificate.

Quest employs about 300, and has delivered 22 of the PT-6 powered bushplanes, two of which were, I believe, delivered 'at-cost' for missionary work.

Great organization and a really neat plane.

airsafetyman said...

"Quest employs about 300, and has delivered 22 of the PT-6 powered bushplanes, two of which were, I believe, delivered 'at-cost' for missionary work."

Good for them, to all accounts it is a good place to work - and they are hiring! Maybe some of the folks that Cessna gleefully threw down the stairwell can find work there.

baron95 said...

Beedriver said...
There is no shortage of new ideas out there for new engines
this is a fun one

Yep. This one is very innovative in their "marketing" materials. Instead of powerpoints they use German accented talking points.

Show me the engine ;) ;) ;)

Lets see them get the fuel/air charge into and the exhaust gases out of that thing effectively.

It sure is a fun project though. It is the sort of thing that our Universities should be doing with Federal research grants, as it is just too speculative - new engine configurations that is.

baron95 said...

U.S. households' net worth rose by $2 trillion to $53.1 trillion in the second quarter

Feeling richer already? Perhaps now we can all afford new planes!! ;)

Well...maybe not...

Even with the $2 trillion rise, household net worth is still well below 2007's level of $63.9 trillion.

So we gained back $2T, but are still down $10T.

That is *A LOT* of planes.

gadfly said...

The “ecomotors” stuff is quite interesting . . . and shows that there is nothing new under the sun.

We could go back in time, to review the problems of “slide valves”, two-stroke engines . . . and maybe review many earlier attempts . . . the “SAAB” two-stroke engines . . . add oil with the gas, and every few thousand miles, rebuild the engine because of massive build-up of “crud” in the exhaust ports, etc. Or maybe study the early problems of using the “piston” to open and close the valve-slots in the cylinder. Some of those engines were extremely successful . . . like the ten-cylinder, twenty-piston, two-stroke diesel, “Fairbanks-Morse”, engines on our submarine. Each produced 1,650 hp (Navy) or 2,100 hp (F-B) . . . depending on which set of numbers. The diesel oil produced the “lubrication”, and at 720 rpm, max, they would run for many hundreds of hours under near-full load, before cylinders (liners) had to be replaced. Of course, weight was not a serious problem aboard a ship . . . and two "machinists mates" on duty, 24/7 for each two engines (four total, fwd and aft engine rooms) was also not a problem. Oh, I forgot to mention the “Roots” blower, to purge and charge the engine, that was also required for constant operation.

It reminds me of some young engineers that had a wonderful new “air/gas pump”, a few years back . . . and I made the various parts . . . quite precision, and clever, to be sure. And one day, I asked them if they wished to see their invention “in print”. And I opened a page on a classic book, “Kinematics of Machinery” by Franz Reuleaux . . . and these young engineers thought this German had somehow stolen their invention . . . but of course, Mr. Reuleaux had “shuffled on”, “dropped off the twig” in 1905, and his book had been published over a century ago, so there was little to be gained in a lawsuit.

The point being that although “ecomotors” engine (not a motor) is clever, and well presented, it would appear that the problems that are shown in the animation are not new, nor so easily overcome, as might be assumed.

The obvious problems to be overcome are two numerous to be listed and explained, but for some, it may appear new and exciting . . . and someone will make some money . . . others will lose much money . . . others will ask “What happened? . . . and fail to understand. But it’s an interesting study in something that seems new . . . but maybe could be shown to have already been tried, a century ago.

Ceramics may be the next thing . . . lubrication is a problem . . . but to move away from reciprocating engines is the answer. The Japanese and even “Coors” (Colorado) ceramics may hold promise. And don’t forget “Schott” glass. There are many new tools out there . . . lubrication is still the greatest problem . . . along with heat. But who knows . . . air/gas bearings may hold great promise. I played successfully with air-bearings many years ago . . . and just didn’t have an excuse/funding to pursue it further. Maybe one of you young geniuses will pick it up.

(What? . . . Machining ceramics? . . . No problem! . . . ‘done it more times than I wish to remember . . . even pioneered some of the technology, right here in our little shop . . . in fact, it paid the light-bills for the first two years.)


(My grandpa, a successful designer/inventor/manufacturer of engines [guaranteed for ten years, in the early 1900's], would make a drawing . . . usually on the back of an envelope or scrap of paper . . . explain to me all the advantages of this device, and then require that I figure out if it would work or not, and explain “why”. And then he’d go back to working on one of his engines, and I, not more than six or seven years old, would work on the problem that he had presented. A few of those engines, dating back to 1902, sit within twenty feet of this computer, are still in running condition, and show no signs of cylinder wear. Grandpa’s very first patents were for “seals” on two-stroke engines . . . so very long ago. ‘Nothin’ new under the sun!)

gadfly said...

A footnote to my last comments, the engines mentioned that were guaranteed for ten years, were "four stroke", single, two cylinder, and three cylinder engines, extremely high torque, running at 700 to 900 rpm, driving various farm machinery, tractors, light-plants, etc., ranging from 4hp to 20hp. They were not "hit-n-miss", but used a throttle governor for speed control. A couple summers ago, we went back to Lincoln, Nebraska, to attend the annual engine/tractor show, and observed many of my grandpa's engines on display, running . . . doing "whatever", while their dozens of owners sat in the shade, sharing whatever old farmers wish to share . . . and listening to hundreds of old engines, doing their thing.

Then we looked at the old factory . . . shut down by Textron after 101 years (now owned by the University of Nebraska, under "eminent domain") . . . took videos of the old entrance to the factory, that my grandpa must have gone through, hundreds of times, walked accross the old railroad tracks that shipped thousands of tons of goods, in and out of the factory in the early years . . . visited family grave-sites . . . and returned home to New Mexico.

It's good to visit the past . . . whether family history, or mechanical design. One learns to not make mistakes a second time, while observing what went right.


(While things are quiet, 'thought I would offer some entertainment, of sorts!)

KnotMPH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bill e. goat said...

Hi Gadfly,
Whoo-wee! You've sure had some amazing experiences in engineering, materials, and engineering! (With people too, I suspect).

You had me working overtime tonight, to catch up to your references!

Those Schott glass, I have heard of them, but it's not quite what I thought.

"Schott AG is well known by the photographic community for manufacturing the glass components of Zeiss and Schneider Kreuznach lenses as well as B+W filters. They also publish the Schott Glass Catalog, which is a standard reference for the properties of the many optical glasses produced by them and other companies.

"In 2008 they announced plans to build a factory in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA to build receivers for concentrated solar thermal power plants (CSP) and 64 MW of photovoltaic modules..."

(Good news for our friends in ABQ- this ought to be a "sustainable" business model, with lots of growth potential. Of course, Wedge would have tried to patent sunlight, and sell it as Eclipse radiation...Seems like when the sunlight shone most brightly, it was the cockroaches who stayed, and Wedge who scamptered away...).

Concerning Saab 2-stroke engines- as a youth, I remember these sporty critters running around.

Actually, I really DID think they were pretty cool...

Sonett – orange, bonett; Sonett bonett, that is
(This was my fav color!)
Sonett- Blue, aft
Sonett- yellow, side
(Later modesl used a 4-stroke Ford V-4, not quite as "disruptive" as a 2-stroke, but still a little weird).

Probably they were a response to the fellow Scandinavian sporty-think Volvo P-1800.

I'm not so familiar with the Fairbanks Morse sub engines, but somewhat familiar with their line of locomotives

If anyone wants a lesson in corporate card dealing, check out the Fairbanks Morse history, scroll down to "corporate disposition". (Includes aerospace supplier BFGoodrich !!).

Regarding Kinematics, seems like ole' Franz Reuleaux (1829-1905) was a pretty significant figure in engineering. One of his book Kinematics of Machinery (pub 1876) is still available in Dover reprint form, and University of Toronto has it available on-line too.

The works of some of his buddies are available too!

Regarding air bearings, the only things I'm familiar with that use them are Air Cycle Machines. At least some of the newer ones use airless bearings- don'thave to worry about oil mist contamination from leaking seals, and -probably- less maintenance.

By the way, I came across an interesting description of aircraft environmental control systems (using ACM's, of course!), circa 767.

As a tip of the hat to some of your relatives, I have the itch for one of these things!!. (The 2010 has a racy 125 cc engine!!).

bill e. goat said...

I've visited Duncan Aviation there, and thought the same good things about Lincoln, NE.

(Until I went there in the winter! Sissy-warm-weather-boy that I am! :)

bill e. goat said...

I agree (!?!) on the economy- to me, it seemed like things bottomed out around March-April. I'm still worried about the debt (I've been worried about it since 1980).
One interesting thing, despite the debt doubling under G.W. (maybe that's where the "dub" comes from), and the recent deficit spike; the percent of the nation budget going to interest has actually been cut (in half, I believe), due to low interest rates. I figure this is only temporary, until the debt, and interest rates, both increase dramatically. I have to give the Fed credit (so to speak)- they've done a great job keeping inflation down. Don't know if they can continue to pull it off, over the coming decades...

baron95 said...

B.E.G. open trade and competition pretty much eliminated inflation in open industries.

Where do you see inflation?

Healthcare, Education and Government. All areas that are largely immune to trade competition by law, policy or regulation.

Yes, you may see occasional commodities (e.g. oil, copper) price spikes, but these have proven to be self-correcting.

Think AA has pricing power to raise fares? GM to raise car prices? Hanes to increase underwear prices? Of course not. A few decades ago they could easily do it in their little cartel world.

So don't worry about generalized goods price inflation - it can not happen anymore.

The US$ has gone down by 45% against the Euro in the past few years? Has Airbus, BMW or MB been able to raise prices by 40%? Nope. 20%? Nope. 5%? Nope.

Only truly unique, innovative and strong-branded products have pricing power. iPhones, Ferraris, etc.

All else will trend down adjusted for content as long as the eye can see.

That is why it is so important to bring innovation and to establish strong brands in GA.

That is the only way to have a healthy and vibrant sector.

I loved to see the airline - high dispatch, simple procedures mentality that Embraer brought to light jets with the Phenom. I also liked the bold, VC-funded, kill the dinosaurs mentality Eclipse bought. We need a few more of that added to the soup. Some good planes will come out the other end sooner or later.

baron95 said...

As for transportation innovation, let's not forget how far we have come since the first C172/182 days.

baron95 said...

Even more striking from the inside.

gadfly said...


‘Late Friday, and I need a short break from design work . . . so let’s talk about some of this stuff while I listen to Vivaldi and his “Four Seasons”.

Schott glass . . . is what you find on most modern stove-tops, regardless of brand . . . It withstands high temperature, with a low expansion rate. (Nothing directly to do with their entering into the New Mexico area to produce solar cells.) Coors and some Japanese companies have produced extremely fine uniformed grained ceramics . . . important for high-strength, etc.

Franz Reuleaux, the “German with the French Name”, cataloged virtually every conceivable mechanism . . . all back a century and a half . . . a most helpful guide for clever, and common, mechanisms . . . and he didn’t invent them, merely illustrated and explained what already existed.

You already know about Cushman Motor Works of Lincoln, Nebraska. Grandpa founded the company in 1901 . . . first building marine engines, which won first place in races sponsored by “Rudder Magazine”. And then, the variable pitch propeller, the two and four stroke engines . . . then farm engines, etc. Being a better inventor/designer/engineer than businessman . . . the early investors forced him out of his own company in the 1920's . . . he left behind his first wife (in a graveyard in Lincoln . . . and his parents, dying in 1920 within weeks of each other) . . . and a young daughter, buried nearby . . . took his second wife, my “Grandma”, and his family on to other challenges . . . eventually to Southern California.

Cushman Motor Works continued, with various owners, and engines of lowered quality, into the 1930's. Eventually, the “scooter” in 1935 . . . military contracts for quick and cheap transportation . . . returning GI’s had fond attachment to the cheap little scooters, and so it found a new market . . . and was adapted to other applications . . . delivery trucks (three-wheeled), golf carts, and airport delivery vehicles. Ownership changed, again, to OMC . . . and then to Ryan . . . and then to Textron. Better scooters, and golf carts were too much for the crude union built products . . . so Textron sent about four-hundred employees their final checks, and closed down the plant after a run of 101 years. Maybe that’s not too shabby . . . but it could have done better, had serious attention been paid to the quality, that was paramount with the founder, Everett Bruce Cushman.

Concerning engines, again: Grandpa worked on many projects over the following years after “Lincoln” . . . notable companies were Food Machinery Corporation (“FMC”), Pacific Scientific Corp., Bireley’s (Southern California), and some others. Among the engine work, he developed a variable compression four-stroke engine . . . testing it on the Santa Ana Freeway. It used a “floating” valve, that allowed a charge of air into the cylinder, at the bottom of the stroke . . . not mixing with the normal fuel-air charge, but raising the effective compression to efficient levels at constant cruise. At either full open throttle, or at idle, the valve would automatically shut, at either extreme, and not affect fuel/air mixtures in those conditions. In the short term, the system worked extremely well . . . the test bed was a six-cylinder Plymouth. But the same problem that affects all “side ported valves” is lubrication, and “ring wear”.

Next, let’s discuss the Fairbanks-Morse diesel.


gadfly said...

Goat . . . continuing:

(The background music . . . I put on the famous duet from the “Pearl Fishers” (Bizet) with Jussi Bjoerling, the famous Swedish tenor.)

The Fairbanks-Morse engines on our sub were something that F-M was developing in the 1940's for the railroads . . . and were only too happy to get a contract from the Navy to further develop the concept. F-M and GM were given contracts . . . each producing excellent engines, to replace the “Hooven-Owens-Rentschler” (“H.O.R.”) that were an embarrassment to the “Silent Service” . . . known as “whores”, and constantly breaking down.

The F-M engines were either 9 or 10 cylinder vertical “in-line” engines (ours were 10 cylinder). Each cylinder (about 8 inch bore . . . it’s been fifty some years, so I’m working mostly from memory . . . and besides, I was an electronics technician, not an engineman/machinist mate) had two pistons . . . the upper pistons had their own crankshaft, running along the top, and the same with the lower pistons . . . each crank shaft connected by a vertical drive shaft . . . one crank shaft driving a huge GE generator. As each piston retreated to the end of its stroke (the exhaust leading the intake by about 12 degrees), clean air is forced by a gear-driven “Roots” blower, into slots arranged in a spiral at the top of the cylinder, swirling down to scavenge out the exhaust gases. The pistons then come together, diesel fuel is injected near “top dead center”, and combustion forces the two pistons apart, to repeat the cycle. It is simplicity in theory . . . but represents the basic issues of any engine . . . valving, lubrication, and cooling being paramount.

Many a night . . . many a day, I slept not fifteen feet from#1 and #2 main engines (there were four) . . . so loud, only by shouting directly into the ear of the “hearer”, could a conversation be carried on. But those engines . . . they were wonderful things . . . and took us thousands of miles, charged those hundreds of tons of lead-acid batteries, and got us safely home.

Gasoline and Diesel engines seem to be complex . . . and they are. Yet we’ve had well over a century to work out the bugs . . . and the best engine designers understand the problems. Probably nothing truly new has been added in over eighty years . . . only refinements. It is not likely that anything new will be added to reciprocating engines . . . ever. The next step will be either materials . . . or going to a truly rotary engine. (And the “Wankel” is not a rotary . . . but merely a unique piston, reciprocating in a peanut shaped combustion chamber.)

It’s all been thought up . . . long ago.


(The music has turned to "Tosca" . . . a pleasant afternoon in Albuquerque!)

WhyTech said...

"the “SAAB” two-stroke engines . . . add oil with the gas, and every few thousand miles, rebuild the engine because of massive build-up of “crud” in the exhaust ports, etc."

So Gad, any first hand experience with these engines? Only the early engines required adding oil to the gas. Later engines had automatic oil injection - fill the oil tank once in awhile and forget about adding oil to the gas. I owned three Saab two stroke cars in the 60's - a 750 GT, a Monte Carlo, and a Sport wagon. Had none of the problems you mentioned in more than 100,000 cumulative miles. I campaigned the Monte Carlo in the SCCA rally program with modest success. Erik Carlsson won the Monte Carlo Rallye in 1962 and 1963 in Saabs powered by three cylinder 2 stroke engines. This is the big kahuna of rally competition.

By today's standards, these cars/engines are certainly wanting, but in their time they were OK. And if a rebuild was needed, a brand new factory rebuilt engine was $250. I did this once in an afternoon on a vehicle with more than 50,000 miles. Almost a disposable engine due to its simplicity.

gadfly said...

No, "Why Tech", I never owned a SAAB . . . but worked for close to three years with a family that owned and loved (?) those early SAABs . . . and was also told of their experiences. The same family also owned a "Citroen" . . . and they would remove a rear wheel, and drive around the parking lot, like a "three-legged dog". Granted, the later SAABS earned a great following.

A few years ago, when we were in Sweden, I didn't meet a Swede who owned a SAAB . . . and only one who owned an old Volvo . . . and he only owned it because when it reached the ripe old age of "thirty", he would no longer have to pay tax on it. But Fords, Toyotas, and Mercedes were in abundance.


(There are some excellent reasons for going to a "four stroke engine" instead of "two stroke" . . . but I'm too tired to go into a long discourse on the subject. And, for whatever it's worth, I have no dog in the fight.)

bill e. goat said...

Hi Gadfly,
You never cease to amaze me!
Thanks for the elaboration on your family tree!

I think you've well carried on the spirit on invention and entrepreneurship!

(Sleep well tonight- away from those diesels!

Beedriver said...

there have dramatic advances in direct injection engines both diesel and now gasoline from what was demonstrated in the fairbanks morse 2 cycle opposed piston engines which were functionally very similar to the Junkers Jumo aircraft engines.
one of the interesting things is the toroidal depression in the middle of the piston which promotes complete combustion. the combustion process is dramatically improved from what the old diesels used with a basically a flat top piston.

A summary of the new technology can be found at

Engine technology has improved especially in the control of the combustion process but it has not yet migrated to aircraft engines except in the Thielert and Austro engines. These two suffer from bad execution by not purpose designing the rest of the engine for aircraft use.

bill e. goat said...

I'm glad I'm not the only guy who thoght Saabs were cool! You stretched my remember-er with the 750 GT reference though!

Vintage Saabs

I lament the US was exposed to these Citroens

When, just a few years later, these came along.

bill e. goat said...

If you have a chance, could you tell more of a "true rotary" engine? I'm only familiar with the Wankle engine (WT- I autocrossed RX-3's and RX-4's in my younger days).

WhyTech said...

"You stretched my remember-er with the 750 GT reference though!"

BEG, thanks for the link to the Saab GT750 page. Brought back many happy memories. Mine was a 1959, tan with a red interior. Purchased it used while a poor engineering student. With the healthy exhaust note (for a 2 stroke) , Pirelli Cinturato tires, Halda Speed Pilot and Nardi wood rimmed wheel, thought I was hot stuff! While the 2 stroke Saabs had their "issues," mine never once let me down, even in some fairly demanding competition.

gadfly said...


There may be such a thing as a true rotary engine, other than a turbine, but I'm not sure what it would be.

Among strange engines, you may be interested in any of the "cam" engines . . . of these, the "Fairchild-Caminez" Cam Engine of 1926 was almost too successful . . . at least briefly.


(It would appear that almost everything possible has been tried, over the years.)

WhyTech said...

Slow day on the blog, so here are some more Saab / Erik Carlsson two stroke rally achievements. In my previous post, I failed to mention that Carlsson won the Monte *3* times, as well as the East African Safari Rally in 2 strokers. Only the last 3 on this list are the V4 powered cars.

Erik Carlsson - Lifetime Highlights
Year Rally Finish Car Co-driver
1955 Rikspokalen 1st Saab 92
1957 1000 Lakes 1st Saab 93
1959 Swedish Rally 1st Saab 93
1959 German Rally 1st Saab 93

1960 RAC Rally 1st Saab 96
Akropolis Rally 2nd Saab 96
1961 Monte Carlo Rally 4th Saab 96
RAC Rally 1st Saab 96
Akropolis Rally 1st Saab 96
1962 RAC Rally 1st Saab 96
Monte Carlo Rally 1st Saab 96
East African Safari Rally 7th Saab 96
1963 Monte Carlo Rally 1st Saab 96
Liège-Sofia-Liège Rally 2nd Saab 96
1964 Monte Carlo Rally 1st Saab 96 Sport
San Remo Rally 1st Saab 96 Sport
Liège-Sofia-Liège Rally 2nd Saab 96 Sport
East African Safari Rally 1st Saab 96 Sport

1965 BP Australian Rally 2nd Saab 96 Sport
1966 Coupe De Alpes Rally Last Saab Sonett II
Akropolis Rally 2nd Saab 96 Sport
1967 Czech Rally 1st Saab 96 V4
1969 Baja 1000 3rd Saab 96 V4
1970 Baja 1000 5th Saab 96 V4

bill e. goat said...

Hi Gadfly,
Thanks for the link to the cam engine site- I have to admit, I had never heard, or seen, one of those things.

I think you're right- about "nothing new under the sun". Every so often, something gets "reinvented".

In my youth, I was stunned when I realized the diameter of my bicycle wheel, and the earth, and the moon, all had a certain relationship to their respective circumferences. I was rather crestfallen when my father informed me pi had already been discovered. Rats! On to the next big thing...

BTW, I've attached a link to the home page of your reference, the
Museum of Retro Technology
Man- that's cool!

bill e. goat said...

Hi WT,
Ditto slow day observation- and thanks for the Saab info. Wow- I didn't realize Saab had such a "track" history- very impressive!

The 750 GT is a beautiful car- very graceful, and it seems they must have had the "mechanics" down pretty well too, to rack up that string of victories with various platforms.

I became interested in cars when it began to appear I could graduate from college, and dirt bikes. Back then, I was interested in Alfa Romeo's. A foreign car dealer near where I lived sold only Alfa's and BMW's- BMW's being butt-ugly upside down bathtubs back then (beauty is in the eye of the beholder, lest I offend anyone who owned one), whereas the Alfa's were sleek and sexy (heck, "Sprint Veloce" even sounds hot!).

Ten years later, things had pretty much changed- Alfa's were playing catch up- and loosing- BMW's went on to become vastly more popular. I lamented the mechanical reliability shortcomings of those sleek Alfa's, and wonder if they might have captured the market BMW did, if things the reliability had been there. (The only BMW I have ever though "sleek", was the M1).

I hear tell Alfa was poised to make a comeback, right about now. (Or, were before the 2008 economic meltdown anyway).

Now that Fiat owns Alfa, and Chrysler, could Alfa's be sold as Dodges? Oh, the horror!!!

(I have to admit, I couldn't tell 'ya which one had worse reliability...rather fitting Fiat owns both :)

Not to disparage my little 124 Spyder of yesteryear though- 80K trouble free miles on that little rascal!
(That car was "pure fun"- so much so, it literally made you feel sorry for anyone who didn't have a convertible too!)

bill e. goat said...

Catching up a bit, regarding the USAF tanker...
As I understand the story,

Act 1:
Air Force wants new tanker. Can't afford new tanker. Decides to lease new tanker. Senators object to leasing arrangement- say buy it to say money. Deal falls through.

Act 2:
Air Force tries to buy new tanker. Boeing hires ex-pentagon acquisition exec. Somebody notices, says: shame on you. Deal falls through again. (I personally don't think there was any influence peddaling, but it looked bad. Boeing was involved in several other scandals at the time as well).

Act 3:
Air Force says, "we aren't going to mess up again!". To keep from "messing up", they want competition to insure the taxpayer gets a good deal. (So far, so good). Northrop Grumman plays along, who knows what they really wanted in return, but when it looked like the tanker RFP wasn't going to fit the A330, NG says, see 'ya. Air Forces says, "oh, we really want competition, please come back"- and tweaks the RFP. NG comes back. Boeing says "hey, what's up? do you want a little tanker (767), or big tanker (777)?". Air Force says, "don't worry- we just want competition- but we really want the 767". Boeing says okay. Boeing looses. Boeing cries foul. Deal thrown out. Again. (Guess third time's not a charm).

Act 4:
Who knows what the RFP will favor this time- 767, 777, 787, ???. (Can a company submit more than one bid?) But now the WTO drama clouds the issue (as if it needed more clouding).

What supports the Act 3 story line, is the Air Force saying it didn't need the cargo hauling capability of the A330- they said they don't use that capapbility on the KC-10. They just want a gas truck. The 330 holds more gas, but costs more. (Guess the
us Air Forces wants the flexibility of more tankers, in more places, rather than few airplanes, in fewer places).

Airbus A330 tanker

"On 27 March 2008, the UK Ministry of Defense signed a deal to lease 14 aircraft from EADS-led consortium AirTanker, with the first aircraft due to enter service in 2011"

Wow- Irony is pretty ironic!

gadfly said...


By now I hope you have learned that Pi R not square . . . but almost always "round" . . . making it much easier to divide it into servings for a family of "six".


(What do those number smiths know about pie, and stuff like that?! . . . Nothing! And now we learn that space is essentially "flat" . . . and has ten dimensions [or at least in the first few microseconds after the "Big Bang", before it settled down to a mere "four dimensions"]. And that's the truth! Really!)

Phil Bell said...

Planned new "headline" post is pending permissions- should be up Tuesday AM- thanks!

WhyTech said...

"I was interested in Alfa Romeo's. "

Me too. A friend owned a Giulia Spyder which we used for awhile for rally competition. A beautiful car, but the Saabs were better on the rally circuit.

julius said...


physicist are lazy - at least sometimes: it is just easier to work with 10 or more dimensions when modelling the "world".
I do not know how these guys or the experimental physicists handle 10 dimensions in practice or in experiments. Too small, too fast, too faint, too slow ...?

Perhaps it's a problem comparable to the tanker issue:
The WTO, the military needs, the budget, the political needs, economical needs, ....they are a "dimensions" in this plot which must be regarded.

The wedge (and RiP) failed when dealing with much less "dimensions" ...


P.S.: Lehman... why were their promises (certificates or products) so complicated - too many crazy promises included?
Too difficult for one ALGOL W statement?

gadfly said...


Although I can “visualize” ten dimensions in my mind (the 10th being time, of course), . . . and even the next step (28 dimensions . . . purely a theoretical concept, the 28th dimension also being “time”), I could no more explain it than flap my arms and fly. But it’s fun observing some of the “brains” make an attempt . . . stringing along their theories.

Those that claim to have a handle on the concepts . . . are like the following illustration: If you remember “Woodstock”, you weren’t there!”

For me, I have enough problems in “four dimensions” . . . and I’ll leave the “ten” and “twenty-eight” to God. But I sure would like to have a handle on those few nano- or pico-seconds, at the moment of creation, named the “Big Bang” by Fred Hoyle, the famous and now deceased atheist, who would have no part in the creation event . . . it ruined everything for him, because less than twenty-billion years was much too short a time for his (Hoyle’s) theories to take place. It ruined his whole day.


(It’s interesting how time flies when you’re having fun.)

airsafetyman said...

"(I personally don't think there was any influence peddaling, but it looked bad. Boeing was involved in several other scandals at the time as well)."

The Boeing dude, Mike Sears, went to prison. The US Government procurement dudette, Darleen Druyun, also went to prison. Both because of the tanker deal.

As Tina Turner might say: "What's ethics got to do with it, got to do with it? What's ethics but a second-hand emotion..."

Shadow said...


I think we're all well aware that Baron lives in his own little world most of the time, which was proved again by his statement about the influence peddling at Boeing.

Shadow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RonRoe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shadow said...


My bad. It was a snide comment meant for Goat, who actually quite appreciates snide comments. Goat's comment was to Baron, which is how I mixed it up. Remind me again to not post in a post-hangover-weekend state.

Baron, my apologies. Substitute BEG/Goat for Baron in my last post.

Goat, sorry, but you do live in your own world. However, I'm happy that you let us in via your postings.

airsafetyman said...

From "Druyun secretly met with Michael Sears, then a senior executive for Boeing, at the Orlando airport in October 2002 to discuss her salary, bonus and starting date at the company."

You must understand
That the touch of your hand
Makes my pulse react
Thats it's only the thrill
Of boy meeting girl
Opposites attract

Baron is busy re-reading Ayn Rand trying to find a way to "neutralize" all the Boeing union workers - none of whom have been sent to prison recently for corruption.

baron95 said...

WoW - You guys must really miss my postings.

You are now posting accusations, retractions, explanations, impugned intentions, to ghost postings I haven't even written yet.

Well Done.


I'm in purgatory for now trying to close a customer deal.

I'll drop a few provocative crumbs for you every now and then.

Thought of the day.... "Just because Boeing-787/GM management is disgracefully incompetent, doesn't mean that SOME of the bad decisions/outcomes didn't come about because of union's extortionist practices".

There - have fun with that till Phil pull another post out of his hat.

Floating Cloud said...

Hello All:

This is a “post” I wrote a few weeks ago (but never posted) while I was working in a remote area of NM (as an anthropologist) without internet connection. Due to this blog, I realized that I want to learn how to fly AND the importance of the GA industry. In the mean time I'll do my best to promote the industry. I hate stereotypes and I hope I am not promoting one here, but I was in a remote area with nothing better to do than write. And then it seemed way too silly to post it at all when I returned home to ABQ, but now you guys just seem way too bored not to. And hey, these days there's nothing wrong with a little fantasy to get by... I certainly have the passion, guts, and good sense of wind and water to be an excellent pilot.

BTW I am actually not that far off from my description below.

Sept. 9, 2009

I AM Mary!

I step out of my silver Caddy XLR-V onto the tarmac wearing navy high heels with a knee-length skirt to match and a bellowing white silk blouse that lightly shows off my figure in the breeze. My wavy dark golden hair brushes just past my shoulders as I turn to examine the airplane through my deep blue eyes shielded by aviator glasses.

My flight plan? ABQ to Martha's Vineyard.

There, Black Tulip is waiting for me to whisk me off to one of his favorite restaurants and indulge me in oysters, champagne, and witty billy goat stories. A tear rolls down my cheek while I wave good-bye through a fiki qualified windshield as an air taxi man and an air safety man guide me towards the runway.

Next I’m off to Ireland for a pint with Shane and some bangers and mash with a side of luscious cold wet mackerel and freedom jam tarts for breakfast. Shane and I talk shop while playing darts and discuss how much we both love to get our hands dirty while tinkering with oily engines and why its advantageous to not have fake nails or anything else fake for that matter. The Baron will vouch for me on that.

A small gadfly on the wall at the pub asks the 1.5 - 2.5 million dollar question, “What VLJ is the ladies choice of airplane?”

The Phenom, the Mustang? An E500? Maybe the E500; it is sweet, sexy, and cheap. Hmm…But on the other hand it comes with a built-in Ken to translate its highly sophisticated flight manual. And then, oh dear, Ken might have to wait in the car while I’m visiting with Shane. Huh, such a dilemma….

And another dilemma, what SHALL I do with the marriage proposal from Eclipso? sigh...

Phil Bell said...

New headline post is up-

(Sorry for the delay- see comments about Firefox browser- although if you can read this, you probably won't need it...yet!)

Brett Rodgers said...

This looks like so much fun! Those vibration isolators on those roller coasters are insane.