Mini engine, maxi efficiency
Certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in January 2011 and by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on April 8, the SMA SR305-230E engine has notched up a total of 3000 hours of ground and flight tests. Thierry Hurtes, CEO of SMA1 (Safran group), explains how this 230 shaft horsepower (shp) engine offers an interesting economic alternative to what its competitors have to offer.
What does the certification of the SR305-230E engine mean to SMA?
We enjoy an advantageous position, since we are pioneers in the field of diesel aircraft engines designed, developed and assembled by SMA. Thanks to this certification, we have again stolen a march on our competitors. Now that we are ready to market this engine, we are in touch with the major manufacturers in general aviation, with a view to equipping their aircraft from the assembly line stage. If the flight evaluations carried out by the manufacturers go well and the aircraft programs keep scheduling, the industrialization phase of the SR305-230E will be launched in late 2011, with the objective of producing 200 to 250 engines per year in 2013-2014.
What are the strong points and the specific features of the program?
The SR305-230E is a diesel engine, like its predecessor, the SR305-230-1, which was developed in 1998 and is currently in operation. The fuel used in general aviation (AvGas), the cost of which keeps rising and which contains high levels of lead, is likely to be phased out over the medium term. The idea is therefore to turn to kerosene, as used on wide-bodied aircraft and available in every aerodrome. This fuel (Jet A) is similar to diesel fuel, and is perfectly suited to diesel-cycle engines.
What is more, diesel engines run relatively slowly (2200 rpm) and, consequently, have no need of a propeller reduction gear. These engines consume less fuel, and the fuel itself is less expensive. For a 230 horsepower engine, this means saving 42% on fuel consumption and more than 50% on the actual cost of the fuel! The cost of the engine is therefore written off even before the first servicing after 2400 hours flight time! Added to that is the fact that the SR305-230E offers levels of performance that are equal - in some cases superior - to those of a turbocharged gasoline engine in the same class, as well as benefiting from longer intervals between servicing.
What are the plans for SMA over the short and medium term?
Our number one objective is to get the engine fitted as standard on an aircraft with high commercial potential. SMA will then be able to envisage additional developments, as needed for creating a range of products to cover market needs comprehensively. This would include, for example, a 6-cylinder 300-350 hp engine designed for large twin-engine aircraft for professional use. Furthermore, we are remaining alert to the imminent opening of the Chinese private aviation market, where everything remains possible, and which represents an immense potential!
SMA (Société de Motorisations Aéronautiques). This subsidiary of Snecma (Safran group) develops, manufactures and markets a new type of aeronautical piston engine designed for general aviation. Its diesel technology, using standard fuel (Jet A/A1), is designed to satisfy the current and future expectations of this market.
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