A novel high-efficiency diesel engine for small aeroplanes significantly reduces the costs and environmental impact of general aviation (GA) flights so important to society.
GA encompasses a wide range of important services. These include emergency medical flights, law enforcement, firefighting, time-sensitive cargo services, business travel, flight training and crop spraying. Smaller planes used in GA applications (around 10 seats or less) utilise piston engines rather than large turbines. Historically, the piston engines have run on AVGAS (aviation gasoline) or, less often, MOGAS (petrol, used in ground vehicles including cars) rather than diesel because diesel engines are heavy, resulting in higher fuel consumption. As part of its ambitious Clean Sky programme for climate neutrality and industrial competitiveness in the aerospace sector, Europe is moving away from AVGAS to highly efficient diesel engines. The high costs of AVGAS, the difficulty in some countries of supply and environmental concerns related to a highly toxic lead additive are among the drivers. With the support of the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking, a public-private partnership between the European Commission and the European aeronautics industry, the EINSTAIN project is fuelling the transition with the tools required to study and design the piston-diesel engine configurations Europe is seeking.