'Greening Up' Blue Skies

Lycoming marked its official entrance into the electronic, light sport, and STC engine markets at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008. Show attendees witnessed the introduction of Lycoming’s iE2 Integrated Electronic Engine, IO-233-LSA Light Sport Aircraft engine, and Echelon STC, and had the chance to preview the IO-390-A1A6.

Ian Walsh, Lycoming senior vice president and general manager, says that the aircraft engine industry has made “green” efforts in search of alternate energy sources. “The writing has been on the wall for a long time,” he says. “The problem that hadn’t been solved is electronic-controlled engines for general aviation. There hasn’t been a viable solution.”

Integrated electronic engine
Lycoming offers its iE2 Integrated Electronic Engine in response to these demands. Walsh calls the iE2 a benchmark of engineering and a foundational product upon which Lycoming and the industry can expand. “It takes piston engines to the next level,” he says. “It’s got a bulletproof mechanical design. The electronics allow you to monitor it and pull it out when needed.”

The iE2 controls the engine on an individual cylinder basis, allowing optimized performance under any operating condition. Lycoming says that the iE2’s technology provides single-lever engine control, knock detection, improved starting, and automated preflight safety checks with computer logic controlling fuel, turbocharger, and propeller.

“The iE2 is an Integrated Electronic Engine, a technologically advanced piston aviation engine that will set a new standard for piston engine controls,” says Michael Kraft, Lycoming vice president of engineering.
“Imagine a classic mechanical engine, then introducing a computer and allowing the computer to manage the engine,” says Walsh. He says that regular interval preventive maintenance on the iE2 eliminates the need for overhaul.

Lycoming says that the iE2 can be configured to run reliably and even self-adapt to a wider range of gasoline. “The key is that it can burn alternate fuels,” says Walsh. “Changing air or fuel through mixture optimizes combustion.”

Walsh says that the first iE2 model, the TEO-540-A1A, should reach certification by the end of the year. Lycoming will then look to get the engine certified on aircraft. The TEO-540-A1A is a high performance 350-hp, 540-cubic-inch, twin-turbocharged and intercooled engine.

Light sports aircraft engine
Walsh says that prior to the IO-233-LSA, Lycoming wasn’t ready to enter the LSA engine market. “Now we realize we have a solution,” he says.

“The IO-233 concept started with several of our own engineers building kit aircraft and they needed a power plant they could not find on the market today,” says Kraft. “They wanted the strengths of the venerable O-235 Lycoming Engine at less weight with no reduction in reliability and a few key feature enhancements, including low octane unleaded fuel capability.”

Nominally rated at 100 to 116 hp, the IO-233-LSA is not fully integrated like the iE2. Engine design features include the incorporation of throttle body fuel injection with an optimized air induction system and electronic spark ignition, substantial overall weight reductions, improvements in engine size, and approval for 2,400-hour time between overhaul (TBO) intervals.

“We’re shooting for certification by the end of the year or early next year to have it fully tested so OEMs can start thinking about putting it on their aircraft,” says Walsh.

More power
“Everybody wants more horsepower all the time,” says Walsh.

In order to give OEMs what they desired, Lycoming expanded on its IO-360 series to introduce the four-cylinder IO-390. The certified IO-390, at 316 pounds and rated 210 hp at 2,700 rpm, uses the same footprint as the IO-360. “There aren’t a lot of headaches when you think about configuring it,” says Walsh.

“The development of the soon to be certified IO-390 is a direct response to the voice of our customers,” says Dennis Racine, director of marketing and program management.

Lycoming says that the fuel-injected IO-390-A1A6 includes a robust rotating system, specifically developed cylinders, tuned induction system, Lycoming’s roller tappets, Slick Start ignition, and front facing fuel servo. Following this first model, Lycoming will continue to certify different versions of the IO-390 to fit customer requirements. Walsh says that the primary market is attracted to the currently
available 390 experimental series.

“It’s a great engine,” says Walsh. “It’s got that extra horsepower, reliability, and bulletproof kind of aspect of the traditional 360.”

Echelon STC program
Lycoming first showcased its Echelon STC in a 1975 Cardinal 177RG at the EAA AirVenture show in OshKosh, WI, in August. The Cardinal 177RG was originally equipped with a Lycoming IO-360-A engine.

Lycoming says it presently offers an uncertified IO-390-X Series engine for the experimental marketplace, and many Cardinal RG owners requested a certified power plant upgrade STC for their airplanes.

“Lycoming is responding to our customers who have inquired about power plant upgrades for their airplane,” says Racine. “The Lycoming Echelon STCs provide premium power plant and firewall forward solutions for legacy aircraft.”

The Echelon STC package will include a new or factory rebuilt Lycoming IO-390-A1A6 engine, new McCauley governor, Slick Start ignition, and recommendations for overhauling the two-blade propeller used on most flying Cardinal RGs. Given that the existing IO-360-A and the new IO-390-A1A6 have the same footprint and major systems, upgrade installation for the Cardinal RG is straightforward without major modification.

Lycoming offers these retrofits on older aircraft exclusively through Cessna’s authorized service centers. Lycoming’s relationship with Cessna goes back more than 50 years. “They’re our No. 1 gross supplier,” says Walsh.

Lycoming also partnered with McCauley Propeller for the Echelon STC program. Walsh says that in addition to the partnerships with Cessna and McCauley, it plans to focus on working and partnering more with OEMs.

“This program offers a fully certified drop-in solution,” says Walsh.

Lycoming’s Echelon STCs are expected to be certified in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Generally speaking
Walsh says that Lycoming’s new engine will provide the same reliability as older models. “There’s clearly a different level of complexity, maintenance, and monitoring with these engines,” he says. “People need to be trained properly. We will offer training programs through our authorized service centers.

“If you own a BMW, you don’t take your BMW to a mom and pop shop when you need work done. You take it to the right place.”