Texas-based Trace Engines has announced plans to restart production of the Orenda OE-600 V8 piston aeroengine three years after Magellan Aerospace, parent of the original Canadian-based manufacturer, decided to terminate the programme, citing a downturn in the general aviation market.

The liquid-cooled 600hp (450kW) OE-600 was touted as a low-cost, reduced fuel consumption alternative to older, higher-power pistons and lower-power turboprops, but despite many re-engining initiatives, it failed to make any significant market breakthroughs. Now Trace Engines, working with the West Texas Energy Technology Initiative (WTETI) and Midland College's aviation technology programme, believes the engine is ripe for a relaunch and has good retrofit sales potential with an estimated global market of 40,000 powerplants.

Certificated in 1998 after a protracted and expensive development programme, the engine was in low-rate initial production in Debert, Nova Scotia when the effort was suspended in 2003. Engines had previously been delivered to Moravan in the Czech Republic for the Z-400 Rhino utility aircraft, to China for the Hongdu N-5 and to Tusas Aerospace Industries in Turkey for the Zui. Explorer Aircraft had selected the OE-600 for its 500R and several re-engining programmes were under way, including the Orenda-powered de Havilland Canada Otter and Beaver.

Trace Engines, working with 30 equity investors, primarily from Midland and Odessa, has purchased all technology rights, manufacturing equipment, US Federal Aviation Administration, Transport Canada and European airworthiness certifications and all worldwide manufacturing and sales rights. Trace expects to be producing engines within three years.

Source: Flight International