The diesel engine demonstrator aiming to replace turboshafts in light helicopters, which could cut fuel burn by about 30 percent, is said to be on track for installation and ground tests on a Eurocopter EC120 in the first quarter of 2014. Some components have been tested in laboratories and critical design reviews conducted last week were successful, according to project officer Sébastien Dubois.
The first run on a testbed is slated for the third quarter of next year. Following ground trials, the EC120 is expected to fly in 2015. The two engine companies involved in the project are France-based Teos Powertrain Engineering and Austria’s Austro Engine, which specialize in car racing and diesels for light fixed-wing aircraft, respectively.
According to Dubois, the new 442-hp diesel engine will feature a power-to-weight ratio between those of a current general aviation diesel engine and a turboshaft. The $12 million engine project is part of the Green Rotorcraft “integrated technology demonstrator” program, itself part of the European Union’s $2.1 billion Clean Sky “joint technology initiative.”