Textron Lycoming is stepping up marketing efforts for its experimental-category IO-390X piston engine in a bid to reverse initial weak order numbers, as a rival steps up US expansion plans for its diesel engine.

Sales of the 210hp (155kW) engine, Lycoming's first experimental-category powerplant, have been slow since it was unveiled at last year's AirVenture show. Only seven kits have been delivered to the company's US distributor and overhaul company Performance Engines, which assembles the -390X for customers at its Tulsa, Oklahoma base. Lycoming plans to establish similar ventures around the USA to gauge demand.

"If there is a big enough market from the OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] we may certificate the engine," says Lycoming regional sales manager Ray Crist. Current applications for the IO-390X include a Vans RV-8 and an Extra 200 operated by the US aerobatic team.

Meanwhile, French diesel engine manufacturer SMA says it is keen to establish an industrial partnership with US companies to ease its transition into the North American market. The company says that the US operators have begun to embrace diesel-cycle engines as a means of reducing operating and overhaul costs and the market potential is huge.

SMA says it will consider partnerships with established US engine makers Textron Lycoming and Teledyne Continental "or any other company where synergies exist between the two players". SMA, a joint venture between EADS, Renault and Snecma Moteurs, has delivered 17 230hp SR305-230 engines for Cessna 182 re-engining since production began in May. Total production this year is set at around 80 kits, increasing to 150 in 2005 and around 1,000 within five years, says SMA senior vice-president operations Miriam Dunn. Sales will be boosted by the service entry in late 2006 of the 300hp SR305-300, for which SMA has received "phenomenal demand", Dunn says.

Source: Flight International