Cover Story: Recip Technology: An Alternative

Reciprocating engine technology as an alternative to similar horsepower rated turbine aircraft engines


Located in Midland, TX, Texas Reciprocating Air Craft Engines or TRACE feels the industry could benefit by having a reciprocating engine that can be used as an alternative to similar horsepower rated turbine engines, and it feels it has just the engine for this application.

Originally developed as the Orenda OE600A, in 2006, TRACE purchased the entire program which included the intellectual property, rights, and inventory of ORENDA, a Canadian manufacturer of type-certified and production-certified aviation engines.

In late 2009, TRACE was awarded a production certificate by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for production of the type-certificated 600-hp engine — Type Certificate Data Sheet (TCDS) E00060EN. The TRACE engine is a liquid-cooled, high-performance reciprocating engine that the company feels is a viable fuel-efficient alternative to turbine aircraft engines with similar horsepower ratings, in certain aircraft applications.

So let’s take a little closer look at this technology. AMT spoke with TRACE chief operating officer, David Czarnecki and here’s what he had to tell us. “The engine in concept is similar to an automotive design, but the engine design was significantly strengthened in almost all components. It is important to note that this engine is not just an adaptation of automotive engine technology,” says Czarnecki.

The engine is a liquid-cooled turbo-charged eight-cylinder reciprocating engine in a 90-degree “V” configuration, specifically designed for aviation use. The construction of the engine uses primarily aluminum, steel, and magnesium materials. The engine block is aluminum with steel cylinder sleeves. The cylinder heads are also aluminum with steel insert parts, and have two valves per cylinder which are operated by pushrods off a single camshaft. Several of the engine covers are made of magnesium for weight conservation.

The engine has two gearboxes: one on the front of the engine to drive the propeller and the other on the rear of the engine designed to drive the accessories. The rear-mounted gearbox has mounting pad provisions for multiple accessories depending on the needs of the particular aircraft application. The engine has a dry sump lubrication system designed to provide 40 psi at idle speeds with a 120 maximum psi. The oil reservoir and plumbing are designed for the particular aircraft application for a minimum capacity of 16 quarts. The recommended lubricating oil is AeroShell 15W50 and the engine operates using 100 low-lead avgas. There are several approved three- and four-blade propeller applications between 85 and 106 inches in length.

Gearboxes, accessories, cooling, and engine speeds
Both the propeller drive gearbox and the accessory drive gearbox are designed with internal oil passages providing a high-degree of lubricant flow resulting in very durable gearboxes. The OE600A engine uses the Precision Airmotive RSA10 fuel injection system and two Bendix S-1200 magnetos for the ignition system with two spark plugs per cylinder. The turbocharger approved for use on the OE600A engine is the AlliedSignal Model TA94.

Czarnecki shares, “Aviation engines are typically designed to operate at power settings of approximately 75 to 100 percent of their maximum rpm. As a comparison, automotive engine designs typically operate at power settings of approximately 35 percent of maximum rpm. Operating at these power settings generates a lot of heat. The cooling system for the TRACE is designed to provide a coolant flow rate of approximately three times that of a similar automotive engine providing a high-degree of cooling efficiency and the flow through the engine is unique.” The maximum temperature for the engine coolant of 225 F and the maximum temperature for the engine oil is 210 F.

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