The company's $20 million-plus investment in the program will enable rapid trials of the new systems without the complications of joint development, company officials say. The engines are to be available for evaluation in roughly 24 months.
"These turbo-props burn almost any available heavy fuel, rather than aviation gas," says Peter Bale, senior industry advisor to UAVT. "With a recuperation system that makes them as fuel efficient as the best piston engines, they are light and quiet, able to operate, start and restart, at greatly increased altitudes under Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC). They are significantly more reliable than engines currently in use, increasing mean time between overhaul by an order of magnitude or more over some systems currently in use. The performance of these new engines is already being recognized as game-changing."
UAVT officials have begun selection of appropriate candidates for evaluation of the engines.
"To speed the application of this new technology, the company plans to produce 15 engines in the 50-hp class, and put them in the hands of selected major manufacturers of UAVs. Their feedback will provide specific information necessary to integrate engines with their airframes, and optimize operation," Bale adds.