Mobile, Alabama-based and Avic-owned Continental engines, now Continental Aerospace Technologies (LD-004) is undergoing a sort of rebirth after 115 years in aviation, and the company came to Sun ’n‘ Fun 2019 this week with an OEM partnership with Piper Aircraft and some new engines and accessories.
“This is an underserved market that has not been taken care of for a long time, and Continental sees a lot of opportunity in the piston aircraft engine line,” Chris Pollitt, associate v-p of engineering for Continental, told AIN. Even though the company has an engine that burns jet-A, it remains deeply committed to its line of avgas-burning piston engines. “The need is there into the foreseeable future for piston-powered aircraft,” he said.
Foremost in the announcements at Sun ’n‘ Fun was the partnership with Piper Aircraft to launch the Pilot 100 and 100i training aircraft. Piper has selected the certified Continental Prime IO-370-DA3A engine for its new Pilot 100/100i piston single.
“The engine is stroked more and runs cooler than the engine it replaces,” said Chris Kuehn, v-p of sales and customer support for Continental.
For the experimental homebuilt market, the company offers its Titan line of engines, which includes a direct replacement for the Lycoming IO-540 in various horsepower configurations.
The company also announced a "shower of sparks" ignition system kit—which includes an STC'd installation of two magnetos, ignition harness, airframe specific vibrator kit, and mounting hardware—to replace Bendix or Slick magnetos typically installed on Lycoming 540 engines. The kit eliminates recurring mandatory 250- or 500-hour impulse coupling inspections affecting these magnetos. "Shower of sparks" technology improves starting capability, particularly when the engine is hot.
Finally, Kuehn expressed excitement over the new Continental campus in Mobile. “We’re expecting new equipment to be placed the middle of May and we will have a certificate of occupancy in the middle of June,” he said. The 14-acre campus has 11 buildings totaling 285,000 sq ft of manufacturing space. “It will take a while to move in, but we are looking forward to eventually being all under one roof by the end of 2020,” he said.