US diesel engine developer DeltaHawk has begun flight-testing its first powerplant in a Velocity RG kitplane. The 120kW (160hp) DH160 is aimed initially at the experimental aircraft market, but Racine, Wisconsin-based DeltaHawk has begun certificating the Jet A-fuelled engine.

The first member of the DeltaHawk diesel engine family is an upright V-4 aimed at pusher kitplanes such as the Velocity, says information manager Rip Edmunson. The company is developing an inverted V-4 version aimed at replacing the Lycoming IO-360 piston engine in aircraft such as the Cessna 172. A vertically mounted variant of the engine for helicopters is planned.

The next engine to be flight-tested will be an intercooled turbo/supercharged version of the basic V-4, the 150kW DH200, which will be produced in upright and inverted versions for the kitplane market. All non-certificated engines are scheduled to become available during 2004, with customer deliveries of the initial DH160 version beginning early next year. Prices will range from $20,000 for the upright 120kW DH160V4 to $25,000 for the inverted 150kW DH200A4.

Although the USA does not have the avgas availability issues that are driving European diesel development, interest is strong in the experimental-aircraft community, says Edmunson, due to the engine's lower consumption of cheaper Jet-A fuel and overhaul costs that are 25% of those of conventional piston aero-engines. "You can save more than the cost of the engine," he says.

Certification could take three years, but DeltaHawk hopes it can be done in 18 months.

Certificated upright and inverted 120kW V-4s are scheduled to become available in 2005. "We are also looking at a V-8," Edmunson says. DeltaHawk is planning to certificate both 150kW and 225-315kW upright and inverted V-8s in 2005.

Source: Flight International