Two years ago, I wrote about how converting legacy piston aircraft to alternative engines could re-ignite GA by significantly lowering costs and emissions. The article mostly covered the reasons for converting our Cessna 172 to a software-controlled V8 automotive engine solution as a fun and challenging engineering experiment. After considerable interest from legacy aircraft owners seeking an alternative to rebuilding their engines, we thought about offering CORSAIR branded conversion kits to others wanting to convert their legacy certified fixed wings to experimental category as well.
With the FAA’s decades-long crusade to eliminate leaded avgas and lower noise, we mistakenly believed the agency would at least consider, if not welcome, any feasible solution. After all, we had a flying prototype that proved the concept and a 60% lower cost that was needed for a solution to be adopted. We soon learned that the FAA was less than enthusiastic about certified aircraft transitioning to experimental, regardless of their age or condition.
Since we were planning on performing most of the same testing required for certification anyway, we started down the land-mined path to FAA certification to obtain a supplemental type certificate (STC). The proposed STC would allow owners of older legacy piston aircraft to install our engine kit that would reduce operating cost by more than 50%, eliminate need for leaded avgas, allow wider range of cleaner burning fuels, and reduce emissions—all while increasing aircraft performance. We now refer to the decision to seek certification as a combination of pilot error with contributing factor of controlled flight into terrain event.
We continue to receive a lot of update requests on our website, as well as orders and dealer inquires from all over the world, so thought it was time for an update and answers to some common questions.
We have made a lot of progress in the two years since I wrote the last article. Our 1969 Cessna 172K has over 500 hours of completed development and flight testing logged, as well as about 150 hours of private and commercial pilot training and FAA check rides. Flying now is just to rack up time on the engine to record engine and performance data, while continuing oil analysis and detailed inspections (and of course it’s cheap and fun to fly). Almost all of the hours have been performed at or near max gross weight of 2,550 lbs., at minimum oil levels, and under harsh missions such as prolonged slow flight, maneuvering, multiple stall maneuvers, endless touch and goes, hundreds of engines starts and inflight shutdowns, takeoffs with induced faults, and countless go-arounds (touch and goes got expensive with tires).
The Colorado Rockies allowed snow-covered, cold-soaked starts and flight in subzero winter temperatures, as well as high summer temperatures with consequential runway density altitudes of 10,000 feet that tempted fuel vapor-lock. This needed to be accounted for in the design and software when burning ethanol fuels (ethanol amplifies fuel vapor lock issues). We conducted flight testing from the highest airport we could find, Leadville, Colorado (LXV, 9,934 feet elevation), to develop high altitude performance tables and confirm engine temperatures remained within limits on takeoff and climb in the hot and thin summer air. It did.
Because few piston A&Ps have experience with electronically controlled engines (we discovered this early on), we further developed our ability to wirelessly connect to the engine controllers via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. This allowed us to connect to the engine from anywhere—a helpful feature if there was a problem that a local shop or owner/operator couldn’t figure out. We can now see over 75 engine parameters in real time with engine running or shut down, view past engine log memory to see exact conditions at time of fault, and even turn fuel pumps on/off through all normal and backup circuits from anywhere in the world. This in addition to our tablet or laptop engine service software that plugs directly into the OBD port—just a like modern car—displaying detailed instructions to fix each fault code (and could also include link to specific videos for demonstration). Our intent was to make the engine easy to troubleshoot and repair for most owners, with immediate access for remote expert help if needed.
Next on the list will be programming cylinders to shut down during taxi, low power cruise, and descents, to further reduce noise, fuel consumption, and emissions. This is a common feature for modern engines when operating at low loads. We learned a lot on the V8 project, which we may follow-up with a new hybrid gas-electric engine using current automotive technologies and components. A practical hybrid engine could really fill the gap between gas and electric aircraft and be a neat project. Our over-achiever software engineer has graduate computer engineering degrees and has developed engine control software for goliaths such as General Motors and other OEMs, including developing the same hardware we use in our engine design. So, there is no limit on how far we evolve the current aircraft piston engine technology.
For the C172-V8 project to demonstrate it could really be a viable replacement, it had to be able to perform the C172’s common missions. We performed every maneuver required for the private and commercial pilot syllabus multiple times, and then repeated dozens of times more. We could have passed all the check ride maneuvers blindfolded while juggling chainsaws when done. Once satisfied our engine could meet the vigorous demands of flight training, it was loaned to a pilot for 20 hours of dual commercial pilot training and subsequent FAA check ride. He passed, and is likely the first pilot to train and complete a check ride in an experimental C172. The operating cost of the plane for the 20 hours of training and the 1.5 hour check ride was less than the FAA examiner’s fee… and all without burning a drop of leaded avgas.
More recently, a student pilot started her training in it while still attending high school, completing her private pilot training and passing her FAA check ride in the C172-V8 just last month. The aircraft hourly operating cost (gas, engine reserves, oil) was less than $29/hour, resulting in a total cost of less than $3,700 for 60 hours operating cost, 30 hours of CFI instruction, and FAA examiner check ride fee—again, while only burning regular ethanol car gas and emitting modern automotive levels of emissions into the environment. This really demonstrated that there are practical solutions to GA’s demise without sacrificing mission, and that we have the ability to re-ignite GA and expand participation to the many that could not otherwise afford it (like myself, who struggled to afford each flight lesson and was often more concentrated on the ticking Hobbs meter than the attitude indicator).
We are considering starting a small flying club with our C172-V8. The experimental-exhibition category has about same operating limits as amateur-built and meets most club needs. We knew early on that converting old airplanes for flying clubs could make a big difference, and a C172-V8 or PA28-V8 would likely rent out for $50-$70 per hour instead of the new $140-$175 per hour norm. Experimentals can be used for currency, training, check rides, and equity type flying clubs per current FAA policy, and can perform the mission better than their certified version. More planes in the rental fleet, burning cheaper and cleaner fuels, especially at lower rental costs, would be a significant step in re-igniting GA worldwide.
Because our engine is rated to over 500 hp in the marine application (it’s flat rated to 220 hp for the C172), we can use the same engine design for most other airframes with just software and gear box ratio modifications up to about 350 hp. This allows converting even larger types and multi-engine aircraft to expand the fleet. So, we often check eBay and other listings for old aircraft with missing or damaged powerplants on the cheap that may be our next Frankenstein experiment.
A common question we get: “Is the FAA encouraging in any way, such as funding or certification help?” We received really encouraging help early on from the FAA Manufacturing Inspections District Offices (MIDO), who welcomed the thought of innovation. However, FAA leadership at other departments were far less helpful once we began flying.
The FAA office that doles out millions in funding to support solutions for eliminating leaded gas would not even return a call after hearing our solution wasn’t a modification to existing legacy engine designs or an alternative unleaded fuel. They stated clearly that any funding was intended to allow current piston engine designs to remain in operation and production for the future. When we asked for a meeting to discuss it further, not one request was returned from multiple managers. We also reached out to FAA research and development programs that partner with private sector to share technical resources but never received a response.
When the FAA announced the alternative fuel STC, Corsair Co-founder Rich MacMullan, who comes from an IT and business background, expressed disbelief that the FAA’s solution was to invent yet another specific fuel only for piston aircraft when car gas was everywhere, cheaper and cleaner. He explained, “now we have a monopolized boutique fuel, with strategically controlled distribution, at higher cost and emitting more emissions than what it replaced, supplying a diminishing customer base… how is this a better or sustainable solution?” I thought it was an interesting perspective from outside the aviation blinders.
So, why are we not selling STC’d conversion kits? Simple answer, FAA.
One of the primary FAA regulatory hurdles we needed to cross was to obtain an exemption to allow our experimental C172-V8 test bed to continually be modified by non-A&P engineers to continue development.
Some context here: 14 CFR part 43 (maintenance regulations) is applicable to any aircraft originally certified under a type certificate, regardless of whether it is now in the experimental category. As such, technically, only FAA certified aviation technicians or facilities can make engine modifications and alterations. We are not A&Ps, and thus could not technically make modifications, and were told as much by FAA personnel. This was often difficult as most A&Ps had no experience with software engine controllers and had no approved maintenance manuals to determine if it was airworthy, leaving most not comfortable in signing off the modifications. It got expensive hiring A&Ps for such oversight and delayed development.
We formally petitioned the FAA for an exemption to the regulation, as others have successfully done for the same reason. Months later, FAA denied our request on the ridiculous basis that our airworthiness certificate had already expired and that the request we sought was only applicable to aircraft with a valid airworthiness certificate. Our airworthiness certificate was indeed valid/non-expired and irrelevant in that the very reason for such a request was to develop new solutions towards certification. Think if Cessna first required a valid airworthiness certificate for the first 172 before even building it.
We immediately responded with indisputable evidence that they were incorrect and reiterated the fact that our petition request was approved for others under the same conditions. The only response we received was that we would need to submit yet another petition to dispute their finding on the initial petition. We made formal request to meet with the FAA department multiple times, including the deputy executive director that signed the denial, Robert C. Carty, but received no response. We immediately filed a second petition to dispute their flagrantly wrong decision. We mistakenly expected a quick resolution or at least a call, but that was two years ago.
During the Covid shutdown, and while still awaiting a response from FAA, we asked on several occasions for when we could expect a response—in an effort to keep our business open and try to continue paying staff. Finally we received a response, but it just stated, “no timeframe is provided for analysis.” I found it interesting that Mr. Carty took only a couple of weeks to review and answer a petition for a couple of guys wanting to jump out of, and swap, airplanes for a Red Bull energy drink marketing stunt. It is obvious that we will never get a response from Mr. Carty, or any of his department counterparts, without significant money to buy our way through the process with lawyers, DERs, and/or political influence as larger companies do. We reached out to several departments within the FAA requesting help to have our concerns heard after waiting over a year, including leaving messages with FAA executive offices, but still nothing from anyone. So, much of Corsair development has remained frozen for the last three years. We expected to have a flying hybrid C182 and be working on a multi-engine conversion by now.
Many small businesses have reached out to us with similar stories, most of whom simply gave up. It’s really no wonder why GA is stuck in the 1950s. One GA manufacturing veteran put it this way: The FAA focus is on the airlines, where their revenue and political pressure is; GA is nothing but a cost item with no budget… They’d be glad to see it go away. After my experience over the last four years, I now sadly believe this to be true. Fifty years after the Wright Brothers launched their flying machine at Kitty Hawk, airlines were flying four-engine passenger jetliners across oceans in pressurized cabin comfort; yet piston GA has remained mostly frozen in the last 50 years… which seems to prove the point.
We also came to realize when meeting with potential investors, that as GA shrunk over the last three decades, so did the interest to invest in it. The high certification costs and civil liability risk now make little financial sense to the larger investors capable of funding any meaningful GA innovation, considering the limited potential returns. Toyota fully FAA-certified a V8 conversion engine in the 1990s, but cancelled the program before beginning sales after considering the risk vs. rewards in the diminishing GA market. Honda also developed their version of an aircraft piston engine, but also cancelled the program for similar reasons. Porsche quickly came to the same conclusion even though their converted engine was already certified and installed in aircraft.
We concluded that any practical innovation is more likely to come from smaller, passionate companies or individuals, but most will be unlikely to have the resources to pass the FAA gauntlet. FAA’s charted mission of “Encouraging and Developing Civil Aeronautics” has fallen way short for GA and played a key role in leaving it too small and weak to fully recover on its own. Two aircraft piston engine manufacturers own over 90% of the market share worldwide. What incentive do they have to innovate, especially now with such a small market for new engines and the titanic barriers to entry from new competition? Now, the new STC’d fuel will allow them to continue making the same engine for another couple of decades. We realized that without any FAA support, let alone compulsion to return a call, progress would be impossible and well beyond our self-funding abilities, regardless of any environmental or cost benefits our engine demonstrated.
In the 1980s, a local pilot developed a simple low fuel level warning system that flashed a red light when tanks reached approximately 30 minutes of fuel remaining. It used a proven, simple car float switch installed in millions of cars, which he modified for tank depth. He abandoned the idea after realizing the expensive certification process and liability issues, and was forced to remove it even from his own airplane. How many fuel exhaustion accidents could have been prevented over the last three decades with such a simple contraption? It’s been well studied and long-known that spatial disorientation can be significantly reduced with larger sized attitude indicators. Yet, most aircraft still come equipped or maintain the legacy 3” vacuum power artificial horizon, mostly because of certification cost. How many fatal accidents could have been prevented over just in the last two decades when such technologies and components are dirt cheap, such as related micro components or free EFIS apps used in a cheap smartphone? It was apparent that if the FAA hadn’t developed some fast-track or support program for solutions to such safety related and known lethal problems with known solutions, they were not going to do much for an engine that simply lowered cost and emissions.
Mostly, we are asked, “What about selling just the engine kit and owners can convert to experimental and not need any certification?” This was our original intent. The short answer is (besides still needing the same exemption to develop it) that it’s not allowed by a FAA policy from the archaic 1950s Civil Aeronautics Manual, which requires modifications to go through the standard certification process. Again, this is FAA policy, not regulation, but no one has elected to spend the money to challenge it. A considerable number of the GA fleet scrapped over the last couple of decades could still likely be economically flying if FAA allowed such conversions. So, ironically, anyone can self-build a home-made aircraft with untested plans, using materials from Home Depot, and FAA can certificate it as Experimental-Amateur Built. But, you cannot modify a 1970s aircraft that was previously certified to operate in experimental category, with few exceptions… Again, because of FAA policy, not regulation.
Another common question we get, “what would the cost be of a C172 conversion?” Our target cost is about same as factory overhaul cost of the original engine. The cost would be offset by the sale of the original engine to a well-known rebuilder, allowing the customer to return the original engine to them in the crate the Corsair engine arrived in. Installation labor would be about 40 man-hours. Not bad considering that converting a C172 to the Continental diesel cost over $100,000, and the diesel is still more expensive to operate compared to the Corsair V8.
Are there other options to certify the engine for older aircraft? There are some other less-stringent certified categories compared to standard category, such as Light Sport Aircraft (LSA), Primary Category, and Canada’s owner-maintained category, that may offer paths for older aircraft to remain economically feasible that we considered.
The little known or used Primary Category is supposed to reduce the certification requirements and allows owners to convert from standard to primary category to reduce cost (Primary allows for a wider range of maintenance tasks and the use of some non-certified parts). Unlike experimental, Primary Category aircraft can be rented, which would increase the rental fleet and make financial sense for owners to buy more aircraft for leasebacks. Although the intent of the Primary Category was to lower certification costs, any meaningful modernization will likely require meeting current standard category certification basis per FAA policy. As such, few aircraft designs were certified in the Primary Category, and no conversion kits were ever certified.
In our case, the FAA required the same certification basis as a brand new wide-body passenger jetliner for our piston engine controller components and software, even with a decades-long reliable service history in hundreds of millions of automobiles, boats, industrial and military applications. This certification basis would have likely cost us well over a million dollars for this component alone, which is non-feasible considering potential market potential for returns.
The LSA rule was intended to ignite new aircraft with a mostly self-certification process. But most LSA designs failed due to the category weight and size limits. Cessna discontinued the LSA-certified C162 Skycatcher after deliveries of less than 200 planes, then attempted to re-certify in Primary Category to make it more appealing and practical to buyers. Cessna scrapped that program and discontinued the model entirely four years after introduction. FAA has been teasing the industry with expanding the limits on LSA certification standards for years, which could possibly open up converting legacy 2- and 4-place aircraft to its less expensive ownership option, but this is likely a long time off, if ever.
Canada’s CAA does allow many certified aircraft to be converted to an experimental amateur-built-like category called Owner Maintained. This category allows modifying certified aircraft with non-certified components and gives owners the ability to perform a wider range of maintenance to lower cost. However, it does not allow for rental so it would not increase the rental fleet. We received a number of inquiries from our Great White North neighbors regarding converting to the Owner Maintained category, and are looking into whether Corsair could be an option. A version of this category in the US would be a viable option for older aircraft.
We have also received interest from entities in other countries where their CAA may offer more certification support, so foreign STC certification may also be an option worth considering if Corsair moves forward. Many of these nations use piston aircraft for fundamental services and face far higher avgas prices (and won’t likely have access to newer approved fuels), so there is a real need to keep existing fleets flying.
Our experience over the last four years with FAA convinces us chasing any certification would be a fool’s frustration without significant funding allocated to breaking through FAA’s bureaucratic and cultural gauntlets. We have met with potential institutional investors, but most were scared away by the certification cost and risk after considering potential ROI. We continue to meet with smaller investment entities, but have not found a good match yet. As such, our C172-V8 experiment will likely remain just that, an obscure experiment eventually only mentioned in obscure web searches. We may start a small flying club with it, sell it to a responsible buyer, or scrap it (depending on liability concerns), to make room for our next project. We are eyeing a Cessna 414 twin.
I wrote in the original article about how we set out to experiment with a solution that could re-ignite general aviation. Two years later, I think we proved such solutions exist and can come from a small but enthusiastic source using practical means. In this sense, we succeeded. But, as with many such efforts, success is often not enough to make a real difference due to extraneous reasons. So, GA’s perpetual wait for change continues.
- The $20/hour Cessna 172 experiment—Update - October 31, 2022
- The $20 an hour Cessna 172 experiment - November 25, 2020
I saw this plane and spoke with them at an air show in Kanas a couple of years back, and watched it taxi out and takeoff. It was noticeably quieter than the other pistons. I remember being confused about not seeing a carb heat or mixture knobs and asked them about it.
I always wondered why GA hasn’t changed in decades, now I get it. One wonders where GA could be in modernization if innovation was encouraged. I remember there were 3 separate places to rent airplanes at my local airport, now there’s none and the only repair shop is a guy working out of a pick-up truck. I occasionally fly a friends PA28 but he just sold it because he lost his hanger a few years ago when rent was raised to over $700/month and it’s getting beat up sitting exposed on a tie down. Final straw was his insurance doubling over last few years. I offered to buy into an half ownership and split cost, but it still didn’t make financial sense for the amount of flying we do.
It really does seem now that any real help in saving GA for recreational pilots like me will come from a small company or individual that is motivated by passion…. such as the many small experimental companies making cool products that cost far less then their certified counterparts. Last year my friend had to replace the original vacuum attitude indicator in the PA28 with a electric Garmin G5 unit. The certified G5 cost twice as much as the experimental unit, even though it was same exact component.
I wish these guys the best of luck and hope they continue on.
It seems to me that it is time to ask your local congressman/senator to help the FAA to wake up and answer your questions/applications.
Government bureaucracy sometimes needs a kick in the backside.
It’s so sad to see where America is headed..
I agree. Reach ouf fo your elected officials. They have helped me in a few situations. Use the bureaucrats you did or did not vote for.
Seems as though continental and Lycoming are paying to make sure nobody else enters into the market. Electric motored GA is a long way away and doesn’t really make sense. A hybrid makes more sense but probably hydrogen electric. But no matter who develops it Lycoming or Continental will wind up owning it they’ll develop their own by stealing what the small company originally made or buying the patent and they’ll still own the market it’s a small market and and the big boys are highly protective and they’ve bought off the government. This is not true capitalism but crony capitalism there is a difference Wall Street needs to be held accountable they hold everything back until the big monolithic Wall Street trading companies catch up buy up or destroy anything that threatens their Monopoly on the market. We can change this as a society by voting the right people into Congress. But that means voting for the ones that aren’t bought and paid for by big corporations called pacs. Article 5 of The Constitution allows the states to come together and ratify the Constitution without congress’s approval. By forcing our states to move in that direction we can vote term limits on senators and house members we can vote that Federal agency employees can be terminated instead of having lifelong jobs and being able to get away with near murder before being fired. And we can vote to limit bureaucracy when it comes to the greater good of the majority of people. Because as we have it today the minority of people and ideals the ideologues are running the country it’s called the tail wagin g the dog.
Mr Basinger understands the problem well, and proposes the very solution our forefathers made available to us.
I would only add we should eliminate lobbing. Rank and file citizens are arrested and convicted for bribery. Lobbing is legalized bribery. It only required registering with the same people whom the intend to bribe.
We have available the Convention of States organization. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 19 states have signed on for the convention. Encouraging our individual state to exercise their right over the federal government is the first step in solving the overreach issue the US has with government.
Vote straight Republican and oust the leadership!
It was the Republican SCOTUS, in the Citizens United case, that ruled that corporations were “People” and eliminated caps on political spending, that has led to corporate ownership of Congress and legalized bribery via PACS
That’s probably the opposite of what you would want. Republicans are conservative. Conservatives don’t want change
I remember the original article and soon contacted them as my c172 approached TBO and wanted something better. As an aero engineer I obviously asked annoying technical questions which they answered in detail and even emailed me a page from the systems section of the POH supplemental manual. But they were not selling or taking orders, and didn’t even know if ever would, as they needed more time on the engine.
I later read an AOPA magazine article where editor actually flew their plane, and he was impressed. It’s too bad they have been stuck in FAA mud for so long, which seems to be the case for most small companies trying to bring new products to GA. Years ago I did work for a small company developing a simple device that alerted a pilot of potential icing conditions by monitoring carb temps and ambient temp/moisture ratios, and could have really been an effective safety tool. It never went to production due to cert cost and liability risk. These type devices are now standard on modern cars and likely have prevented accidents and saved many a life. Good point about phone app capabilities….. if a cheap phone and free app can be a reliable EFIS, surely this can be done in avionics designs at far more reasonable cost.
FAA is primary reason GA is near dead, which is ironic as their mission is to promote aeronautics. Good luck to Corsair and anyone else trying to effect change in general aviation.
Have you thought about taking the plane and engine to be certified in a different country?
That would give you the ability to prove your designs are airworthy on a larger scale, possibly make some profit and increase pressure on the FAA
Have you approached EAA and AOPA? They have a lot of pull with politicians and the FAA. Sounds like a great idea and great airplane to breath life back into GA.
Thanks for your hard work.
This is precisely where my mind went as I read this article. The AOPA exists to advocate on behalf of GA. We AOPA members pay the AOPA to do this every year. The EAA also has a very strong voice. I believe the full backing of these two organizations is required to get anywhere with the FAA on this issue.
Also, this article tells me that we need to step back, look at the bigger picture, and fight with AOPA and EAA to get common sense into the FAA. Yeah, I know, expecting a govt agency to have common sense sounds ridiculous and impossible. But, it is possible if the right people are put to task and held responsible.
Fascinating story. I’m just getting started in GA, but have been learning a lot about different planes, engines, etc. This platform is so interesting to me and seems like a no-brainer. I’m sitting here trying to brainstorm ideas on how to make it work. Do you think having a petition of signatures showing support from the aviation community would help the FAA to actually respond?
I am down to start a petition.
I will look for a website or some kind off petition app to start it.
Quick tip, Tuesday is Election Day- make sure to vote for the right as they are generally more with general aviation…
‘We want change, so vote conservative!’ ♂️
Apparently emojis don’t work, so my facepalm was lost…
I’m curious if Corsair has asked EAA for assistance or a partnership, as EAA has had success with STC development, alternative fuel work, and adjusting malformed FAS policy.
I would see EAA as the perfect partner with thousands of members that care about actual success for these goals.
Very interesting article. My frustration is the cost of learning to fly and trying to keep costs low. This is a bit of a stretch but aviation is not for us common people on limited budgets. Heaven forbid one if us common folk without deep pockets wants to learn to fly. It seems to me if you aren’t well connected and your parents don’t have money, you’re chances of even being introduced to aviation are slim to none.
I’m not a pilot, I was just a lowly flight attendant for a regional airline. Before that I was an Air Transportation Specialist in the USAF. I was always interested in aviation. 99% of pilots I have met were very proud of their proud and encouraging to share their skills. I flew with a lot of younger guys, but also some fellow military veterans. All but the veterans were struggling paying off their school loans. Some gave up flying altogether. And we wonder why there is a pilot shortage.
If there were a clean, inexpensive, simple path to becoming a pilot (and an easy and cheap way to fly afterward) then there would be much less incentive to join the Armed Forces simply to fly, and the Armed Forces would be less a less able to skim off the cream of the entire flying-interested population of the country.
Perhaps I need to be more diligent reading my AOPA Pilot and Flying magazines. This is the first I have heard about the project. I wonder if some assistance from AOPA could be found.. Several members of congress are GA. Pilots and might be able to push the FAA to move on the various items requiring certification. It just seems like a no-brainer that is just a step beyond an STC for auto gas.
Corsair’s team admirably tried all sorts of ways to get a response from the FAA, but the article didn’t mention political pressure. If their local Colorado congressman wrote a letter to FAA deputy executive director Robert Carty on their behalf, that could make a difference.
FAA bureaucrats would continue to stall them out, but at least there’d be some kind of response and possibly increased transparency.
I just read the original article and suggest reading it as well. This could have been the most significant boost to GA in 30 years. I sometimes visited salvage yards to find parts for my 1968 C172 and always wondered why there were so many intact planes and others that seemed easily repairable there being parted out. You could have easily bought a wing, fuselage, stabilizers, and have a whole aircraft without spending much. Was told that cost of rebuilding engines didn’t often make financial sense for old aircraft and most were worth more in parts.
I watched the videos on the website of this plane flying in challenging conditions, even in 40 kt windshear, and it flew better than the new C172 I rent for $185/hr. My A&P met these guys and saw the plane at a fly-in and said it could be a game changer and even inquired about becoming a dealer.
The FAA is doing a great job in killing GA. I struggled to afford my private pilots license 30 years ago. It’s now even more of a rich man’s game thanks to FAA, and feel bad for those that can’t afford to experience it.
What am I missing here? Eliminates lead gas, cheaper to fly, and quieter? I wish I saw the original article 2 years ago. How can the FAA know this works by they, themselves, giving check rides in it, and still burying these guys in red tape and ignoring them?
I recently had to wait almost 2 months for a FAA check ride and pay the examiner $800 in cash for the privilege! My CFI said try calling FSDO and request they do it for free…..they said they don’t do check rides and to try calling other examiners including in other states (as if easy and cheap to fly hours away for a check ride). I asked how examiners can charge so much and told the FAA has no control on what the examiners can charge me. So, essentially, the FAA limits the number of examiners regardless of back log, requires us to use them for government business, won’t do check rides themselves, and let’s them charge what they want. How does this help GA?
I’m relatively new to aviation, but after reading this and my own FAA experience, I tend to believe what my CFIs have been telling me, the FAA is not our friend. As a tax payer and environmentalist, this makes me angry.
Beverly, You’re not missing anything. The FAA hinders progress.
I quit flying 12 years ago as a private pilot. I was pursuing the aspect of currency training from an FBO in Virginia with an instructor who was trying to reach his 1,500 hour requirement to get
an airline job. As soon as he reached that plateau, he was gone & so was my currency training. I have learned that GA is basically on its last leg, & flying is for the super rich. I read an article in Flying Magazine several decades
ago where one of the writers, who was from UK, (first name was Nigel), wrote that GA there was “dead”, & the US prospects for continued success was doomed because of regulation & expense.
The FAA does not want this “pet” to live, so just let it starve to death.
Hopefully the “old guard” will die off before GA, & the flying “little guys” like us will get a breath of fresh air. I ended my subscription
to Flying Magazine when it went to
a larger format & is published once every 3 months @ $75 yearly. Their focus is on big-wig aviation
types who have more ratings than
a centipede has legs. I am not in their league & do not pretend to be.
Pilot shortage will only get worse.
Then it will be reckoning day for the FAA. Maybe they will better understand the word flexibility when their jobs are downsized due to a dwindling & disappearing pilot population.
You all should reach out to congressman and senators who are pilots. Convincing down is much easier that convincing up…
The FAA has been killing GA industry AND ITS PILOTS for decades.
I upgraded my Cessna round instruments to a 8” flat panel and feel way more comfortable flying at night or IFR as it’s more like looking out my window on a clear day (Few places even fix the old vacuum gauges anymore). Bigger is Better! But the new panel cost almost as much as the plane is worth because its certified. My experimental neighbors have non-certified panels even bigger and do more than mine, but cost less than half. Still not sure why I can’t put an old plane in experimental that’s going to be parted out anyways and get some of the benefits of experimental.
How many people have health issues because of leaded gas? Gas that was outlawed for all other uses since 1980s, yet FAA continues to protect the 2 big engine manufacturers by squashing small companies like these guys trying to improve it, so the 2 monopiles can continue to sell us the same stuff for over 50 years because the FAA made sure that there were no alternatives and no reason for them to develop new engines or lower cost.
If a small company like Corsair can make a car engine work, what’s Lycoming’s excuse? Any real solutions won’t come from the current monopolies.
I hope they keep trying. I want to fly it!
I’m an A&P. Might be able to assist with your project. Call or text me next week (11/7-11/22) to discuss, if you are interested. (214) 998-4500.
You obviously understand the hurdles associated with certifying the engine for GA, but you. Could sell these all day long g to the experimental/ homebuilt market. The Van’s RV-10 and RV-14 would be perfect candidates for this engine. I installed a Mazda 13BREW engine on my RV-4 and flew for 5 years with it with no problems. If you could market your engine for less than the cost of new Lycomings, you could sell quite a few of them I imagine.
I agree. To me it seems that the number of experimental aircraft being built today far exceeds new certified aircrafts being built and sold due to the surging costs. Kits from the likes of Van, Lancair, Kitfox, Rans, Zenith, Veloce, could use this engine. I’m sure its not anything you haven’t heard before.
FAA motto “We’re not happy till you’re not happy.”
Having had some dealing with FAA legal I understand better than ever. GA is a pain in their ass and seeing it die is their goal.
FAA’s motto: “We’re not happy until you’re not happy”.
Cylinder deactivation can be problematic. Depending on the engine configuration it may lead to the deactivated cylinders and valves having various problems with exhaust, fuel, and oil residues building up in a cylinder or the cylinder’s valves. It seems to me that there may be a requirement to fully operate the engine for some time during the normally deactivated time period.
Cylinder deactivation nowadays works by alternating/cycling deactivated cylinders constantly around the engine, so they don’t really have a chance to develop such problems. Also deactivation is done normally only when at operating temperature, if the engine starts losing temp due to reduced output, deactivation is cancelled
Knowing how failure prone this active fuel management system is, I wouldn’t trust it on a plane. Those lifters and oil control solenoids can fail and you can lose cylinders even if the system is off. It is super common in the the automotive world and is a known reliability issue.
And yes, these engines do have problems with oil consumption and ring sealing issues on the AFM cylinders from deactivation.
So yes, cylinder deactivate is problematic.
About 10 years ago a Cessna with 3 onboard lost engine power after takeoff at our field, about 300 ft AGL and beyond the end of runway. As with many events, the plane stalled trying to turn around with tragic consequences….. not a lot of options at 300 ft with no real open space to try to land. I always remember this when taking off on same runway and reaching about the same altitude at same spot…..there’s few options. Watching the video on their website their c172 crosses the end of runway at 900-1000 feet AGL at max weight and high altitude airports. Think about how many more options for survival there are with an engine failure at that higher altitude, you could likely do a shallow tear drop turn back to same runway and may even require slipping it in to prevent running off the end.
I have owned several airplanes in my life and it’s just too expensive now. New approved gas will likely average $8/gal as AVGAS is phased out and most of us won’t fly enough to make owning a plane worth it on top hassles to find hangers, afford yearly insurance, and finding a nearby shop that is still in business (most of the shops I know closed up when the owner retired and no one wanted to take it over). I’ve seen many companies over the years trying to bring new ideas to GA but most never get through the FAA onslaught, and fewer and fewer are trying as a result. Corsair’s story is the norm. I saw a sticker on a plane the said “Defund the FAA”, which may be the only way to revive GA.
And the NTSB likely determined the cause as pilot error. GA pilots get put into extremely difficult situations like this and get all the blame. I honestly think that if the NTSB started attributing injuries and deaths to outcomes that could have been avoided with affordable, modern technology, the FAA might change its culture quickly.
“A contributing factor to the three deaths was FAA policy that required the pilot to fly behind an unreliable, antiquated engine lacking adequate power for a safe lift-off and insufficient quality controls during construction and remanufacture of the engine that led to an unexpected failure.”
My group of Lawyers are preparing a antitrust tort suit against the FAA. This multi billion dollar suit with force congress to deinterlace the GA part of the DOT FAA regulations and create a separate regulatory agency for GA aircraft. This regulatory body will consist of non governmental personal with many hours of GA experience and A&P retired technically experienced personal. This will deregulate the FAA controls for further GA development and eliminate the cost preventing STC regs.
The civil litigation will hit congress in Jan of 23. Don’t forget you need permission to file a suit against the Federal Government.
I will follow up on the progress.
I hope you succeed. This is what is needed.
I was thinking along the same lines, as were probably many other readers.
That put a smile on my face, thank you :)
JudicialWatch.org, led by Tom Fitton, has had some good results fighting the Federal Injustice system, especially with trouble getting responses from government agencies who refuse to communicate. If that organization doesn’t want to get involved in GA, they might at least give you some leads on how to pressure the reluctant beaurocracies into responding.
… bureaucracies …
Oh, for the ability to edit, or at least delete my comments.
I would like to be on an email list to receive updates regarding this suit.
If there is anything I/we can do let us know. I can write to my congress’people’ and senators to push toward fully supporting something like this.
Please keep us posted…. I think you could find a lot of support for the GA community.
Do you have a web site that we can access to follow progress of the law suit?
Will follow with interest
As a non-pilot who had this pop up on my news feed might I suggest rekindling interest in GA might start with letting people know what GA is?
(I don’t think we’re trying to set Georgia on fire)
Was an interesting article but I never once saw what GA stood for, granted I’m not the target audience but now I’m curious about how a Spitfire would perform with a modern engine in it.
GA stands for general aviation. This describes the base or starting level for pilot training and the planes used.
GA IS general aviation but describes every aspect of aviation not military or airline. Corporate jets that cover 8000 miles are GA. AG airplanes and air ambulance are GA.
I have an EAA sport aviation issue from the eighties where general motors out a aluminum block Pontiac tempest V 6 geared on a Cessna 172 fix a bunch of test one and it cruised at 175 mph off I remember right them they put o it on the shelf and never certified it
Sure you aren’t talking about the GM 215 cubic inch all aluminum V8 from the early ’60s?
Access to a plane like this would make it affordable to continue my training and give everyone cleaner air to breathe. GA provides the ultimate freedom to personal travel. Please don’t let GA die! There are too many of us out here itching to hold those yokes and joysticks!
I personally believe that the FAA does not want dozens of different types of small aircraft
around. Therefore even if it is a great idea they will drag their heels. I am a student pilot
with only 40 hrs. of airtime in and would welcome a less expensive way. I am interested
in how they convert the V8s into dual ignition.
This is basically it–the FAA doesn’t want to have to do the paperwork and legwork to certify dozens of types and hundreds of configurations. They like having the industry be tied to 70-year-old technology because it’s a lot simpler for them; “Is this identical to 1954? Then we know it works.”
most likely the ignition coils are doubled (what was one coil for each cyl. is now two and the ECM is taught to fire either system #1 or system #2).
Outstanding article. A common-sense illustration of what’s possible when a dedicated group of hard-working and innovative people know that we can’t get there, doing what we did to get here. It’s not a coincidence that what GA has experienced in the last three decades differs all that much from the plight of the family farm, countryside churches, or Mom and Pop grocery stores. The national culture has experienced a paradigm shift in a variety of ways, and GA has indeed suffered. Big Box aviation manufacturers alongside career politicians from both sides of the aisle continue, without having the gravitas to openly admit the truth, their goal of eliminating GA to a seasonal carnival ride. Why? Because there’s no money in it for them. The cost of training, fuel, maintenance, and insurance keeps pitching for altitude, leaving many behind on the ground. Scholarships, donors, and sponsors continue their admirable work to seek those willing to qualify and participate in GA, but this isn’t a long term solution to the next generation yearning for wings. The motivational speaker Simon Sinek opined that, and I’m paraphrasing here, “…the goal isn’t to surround yourself with people who want what you have. The goal is to surround yourself with people who believe what you believe…”. My point is that through articles like this we who have the motivation to consistently commit aviation safely and on-purpose, must continue to share that with others. There’s no point in a David versus Goliath approach to the Big Boxes associated with GA. The key, I think, is to illustrate how by working together, everyone benefits. Industrial, legislative, and administrative collaboration is possible. The majors accomplish this across the board on a regular basis. So…how can GA pull this off? We take advantage of what we have, what we know, and what we can show. That’s for starters. The article highlighted an exhaustive record of that effort superbly. GA has a language all its own. For us to thrive instead of just to survive, we need to learn the language and the buzzwords of the entities that simply wish we stop leaving messages on their voicemail, or designate our emails to the Junk folder. In a quasi-judo move, when sharing the awesome potential of the technology presented in this article with those who have either the political or financial horsepower to make something happen, use their own definitions of efficiency, lower cost, lower emissions, and overall benefit for the common person against their demonstrated hypocrisy. Personally, I hate politics, but it’s part of the arena we are in. It’s part of our GA battlefield. We must do it faster, cleaner, and more effectively than the other side. It won’t happen by next Tuesday. I get it; it takes money and time. As evidenced by the article, GA has a solution. It’s proven. It works. The bureaucracy delaying its implementation is massive. Knowing all this, we face a crossroads: the other side has deep-pockets. They are perfectly content to wait us out…or…do we take the initiative, as suggested by previous commenters, to change our audience? EAA, AOPA, or even a different country? We must face the reality that the game is rigged, and not in our favor. So we change the game. We go where the game is played fairly, efficiently, and effectively. If that means sharing our motivation for GA with those we wouldn’t normally consider, then do it. We won’t know what inspires them about the magic which exists in GA without earning the right to be heard. That means listening. I’m certainly not suggesting such an approach hasn’t been, or isn’t being implemented. I’m simply saying we need more altitude. Get above what we’ve learned is regular turbulence. See further toward the horizon. Our very survival as a community depends on supporting the efforts of fantastic folks demonstrated in this article. We can do it. We’ve done it before. I recently became a grandfather for the first time. One conversation I never want to have with my grandson, is the one where he says to me, “…Grandpa, tell me the story again of the old days. Of how you used to actually be able to go to a local airport, and fly an airplane because you could, and you wanted to. Tell me about the people, Grandpa. Tell me about the wonderful people you met in GA. Where have they all gone…?” We are here. We are now. “…when you find yourself going through hell, keep going…” -Sir Winston Churchill.
Consider crowdsourcing funding from GA? I’d be interested in investing. As I am still waiting on our C182 engine rebuild 10+ months later due to supply chain issues (I’m told) this is intriguing option. The cost to rebuild this simple engine was also shocking. As a fairly new pilot I was skeptical of flying a 50 yr old plane but can attest that nothing much has changed in 50 yrs with respect to the engines largely due to FAA Regs.
Seriously, if the government agency now known as the FAA had somehow existed before the Wright brothers, how different might aviation history look? Truly a pathetic state of affairs.
I should also add, I had to retire from airline flying five years ago due to the archaic, unsubstantiated FAA rule that says one cannot fly as an airline crew member after age 65. I have to laugh as airlines today are struggling to fill pilot seats. I thought I would get back into GA after retirement, but it’s just too expensive to justify.
I’m not surprised. The FAA isn’t there to help or advance GA. It’s there to get rid of it, or limit it as much as possible. The current regime has no place for GA in its plans for America. Time to wake up America.
You could not be more right about that. That is why you have a two engine monopoly for
What a great story of innovation! Thanks for giving it your best shot. And yes the FAA like any other bloated government bureaucracy just shows us all that bigger government is not the answer. Pilot shortage, blame the FAA and the big airlines and the law firms. It should not cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to become a professional pilot. And it should not cost $1million for a plane like a Cirrus!!! Another big thanks to the greedy and blood thirsty lawyers who saddled the industry with ridiculous prices. Some of the lawsuits that the industry had to deal with have been nothing short of criminal.
To see why this is happening, you have to understand the mentality of a bureaucracy.
The iron law of bureaucracy states that in any organization there are two types of people. The first type care about the mission of the organization. They may be front line teachers or an FAA inspector who loves aviation. The second type care more about the organization itself and the jobs it creates. Those are school administrators, union officials, etc.
In any organization the later group, more focused on the internal politics, will eventually rise up and take control of the organization.
That’s long since happened at the FAA. Those in positions of power care first about what’s good for the FAA, a distant second about what’s good for aviation.
This guides their actions. So if approval of something like this holds any risk at all to them, even in the odd chance something goes wrong with an example and questions the decision, then the safe path is to not make a decision. Even though not making a decision and slowing down the process definitely harms aviation, it doesn’t harm the FAA and the bureaucracy. So therefore they do what’s best for the FAA.
The same holds with their experimental fuel program. Creating a whole new fuel program that they have to spearhead, supervise, and run is better for the FAA- because it creates justification for way more jobs in the bureaucracy. That’s more important. In addition they can brag to Congress and justify much larger budgets talking about how they developed a whole new fuel. Whereas saying to Congress “some guys found a way to use a car engine and automobile gasoline and it worked great so we approved it” doesn’t do anything to justify higher budgets or make them look good. So a simple easy solution using a fuel that’s already fully developed may be better for aviation. But it’s not better for the bureaucracy at the FAA.
Once you understand the mentality of the bureaucrats
This is exactly why General Aviation needs a top level FAA representative to make improvements in General Aviation easier for improvements in private flying. I was watching a guy explaining the costs of maintaining his Porsche over 15 years. Every OEM part he used failed the same way the original part failed. The problems were fixed by an after market parts designed and produced because there was a design issue with the original ‘certified’ part.
When someone sees a serious problem with the design of anything on a private aircraft, they should be permitted to design and manufacture a replacement part for private use.
The issue then becomes ‘commercial’ operation of the aircraft. The only issue with a commercial operation is the unknowing General public. This is the same problem with any passenger in an aircraft with a ‘private’ pilot. The unknowing General public doesn’t know the difference between a commercial pilot, a private pilot, a sport pilot, or a recreational pilot. For the general public, they just want to get back on the ground alive and have no real concept of the different levels of pilot training. The same is true for aircraft. They see ‘experimental’ and have no clear idea of what that means.
The rules for general aviation have been written for the pilot, not for the general public which these rules were supposed to protect. This has led to many pilots dying. The training of pilots was altered to distinguish between private and commercial, not getting everyone back on the ground safely. I honestly can not think of a commercial maneuver that a private pilot should not know. Every commercial maneuver is energy management, and is vital for keeping any pilot safe during any flight.
The same is now true for equipment on aircraft. Jump into a 20 to 30 year old ‘certified’ aircraft. And you will not have the same safety instruments, tools, or equipment an experimental aircraft can have. The entire ‘certified’ aircraft rules are screwed up. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have parts certified, tracked, and tested. We do have to know when someone makes a poor product… I personally wouldn’t fly in anything with a part made in China required to keep the aircraft in the air.
And that should be the ‘certified’ level of parts for an aircraft. Anything required to keep the aircraft in the air. A Garmin G1000 shouldn’t need to be ‘certified’ to be put in a plane any more than your phone should be certified for use in an aircraft.
Pilot training and aircraft part certification are in deep need of repair.
I wonder why You, Americans, are now so amazing about the policies of FAA that conducted, soon or later, to the death of GA.
In fact, in practically all the countries of Europe (and the now mighty EASA) have already done that a long time ago. Freedom of flying without the price payed by airlines and corporate companies related with aviation is something that doesn’t appeal to the legal institutions that rule the sector.
All of You must expect the same that have happened in the now EU, unless You start fighting right now until the end.
I worked on the 162 Skycatcher project for several years. It was a loss-leader, never meant to make a profit, only provide publicity, drive up interest in flying, and brand loyalty. Losses were to be easily offset by jet sales and such. A change in Cessna leadership ushered in the desire of every product line to be self-sustaining and literally over night the Skycatcher’s price was increased from $115K to $150K. Also overnight half of the 800+ orders were cancelled and another half of those remaining got cancelled in the month’s that followed. Finally the 70 or so unsold were bulldozed and destroyed in their shipping containers with engines, props, and avionics intact. The order book demonstrated that the interest exists. The FAA policy makers need to step up and honor the demand of the aviation public.
I saw a great sticker at an air show with “DEFUND THE FAA”. I am all for it. The arrogance of the FAA and their continued overt war on GA is getting criminal as their federal mandate is to support and encourage it. Try stoping by your FSDO, they won’t even let you in without an appointment.
The FAA has spent untold billions and on a crusade to eliminate lead gas since I began flying in the early 1980s. These guys seem to have done this and with a huge op cost savings that would make sense for owners to convert.
Regardless if pilots are waiting 2 months for check rides and allowing examiners to charge in cash whatever they want only because FAA refuses to appoint more examiners/DPE’s regardless what it cost us to remain current waiting or cost to fly hours for an appointment. It’s like a corrupt banana republic and the FAA well knows of these issues but arrogantly ignores us and groups like AOPA and EAA. There are hundreds of qualified examiners in the pool but FAA won’t appoint more to keep pressure on GA to continue its demise. Try calling your FSDO and request a FAA inspector to perform a check ride stating you can’t wait for months, and can’t afford to pay the price of examiners. They will say you have no choice. Think if your motor vehicles dept operated similarly, requiring you to schedule a drivers test with a short list of backed-up examiners and pay whatever they require and they keep the number of examiners to a minimum to assure a govt enforced monopoly.
Because experimental category has well out paced certified the FAA and was only segment lowering operating cost and growing. Overnight, FAA changed along existing policy that anyone would now need specific FAA permission to train in experimentals. This was met with quick backlash and pressure from AOPA and EAA , and weeks later FAA modified their policy to allow it but you still needed a written FAA permission LODA. This LODA now simply requires anyone wanting to pay for instruction or give instruction in experimentals, send an email to FAA and they would automatically receive a reply with the LODA…..there was absolutely no reason for this other than the FAA couldn’t just back down and had to try quashing any hope for GA. Shameful.
I have been in GA for decades and the only new companies that make it regardless of their merit are those with huge budgets to buy their way through the FAA process or have established relationships with FAA management or political support.
I spoke with the Corsair guys and checked out their aircraft at an air show a year or so ago. It was a professional well-designed conversion and the engineer I spoke with was extremely knowledgeable. What I thought most important was their ability to quickly convert existing airplanes as there are so many old planes available all over the world would then be cheaper and more environmentally friendly to fly.
I really hope something allows them to move forward, but because something like this could help revive GA, the FAA will continue to try to put them out of business as they have with so many others. Best of luck Corsair, please post any updates.
FAA stands for Federal Airline Administration. The FAA needs to be broken up. One department for
the Airlines and The other for General aviation or Civil Aviation as what it used to be called back in day.
So ironic that the FAA’s headquarter buildings are named after Orville and Wilbur Wright. Maybe the Wright family can withdraw the naming rights? At least until the FAA comes around to foster the spirit of innovation that O and W stand for …
Thanks for the great work Corsair, and greetings from Switzerland, where 10 flight schools are using the (Slovenian-made) Pipistrel Velis Electro as a full electric initial trainer https://www.pipistrel-aircraft.com/the-swiss-go-swiiiishhhhh/
Not sure whether these guys were bicycle mechanics before, but something close I guess …
I would be happy to make a few introductions on the political side of things to see if we can break something loose. Just sent you a connection request on LinkedIn.
Very, very enlightening. I am not a pilot; my brother is and, actually, this article (which implies a deep understanding/appreciation of the relevant technical, administrative, and bureaucratic aspects) is reminiscent of many of our conversations (he built/owned an experimental aircraft and currently owns certified aircraft, including a glider). So, it appears (to this unqualified reader) that you have explored and (literally) demonstrated everything (or nearly so) considered reasonably necessary, even in this extremely defensive and bureaucratic “space”. Now a question- what is the additional aspect to reach “critical mass”? It does not appear technical (although I would not know if it were). I very often suffer from what I call “a failure of imagination” and wonder if that is the case here. Obviously the current “system” is untenable in the long-term despite the desperate life-support currently employed; it does not appear “strategic” any more than our state’s [CT] refusal to allow legal the construction and use of experimental vehicles (I witnessed an admission, by an inspector, that he was convinced no competent leadership above him would ever support even an ideal example of well managed risk). In other words- what you are attempting to accomplish is, at some point, going to happen. The truth always wins (understanding that not as soon as we wish). So, what aspect has not yet been imagined? You guys succeeded in performing a seriously complex task- now is not the time to fall prey to “a failure of imagination” – which ironically could be comparative minor in some aspects (I hope I do not seem to be trivializing the next step(s); I have though, discovered that it is easier to look through a window when looking in that direction…). It may be time to consider strategies well outside the technical or administrative “envelope” – and possibly outside your skill-set. I wonder, for example, if a well-recognized congress person (who should be a pilot) were to themselves (or could convince a non-pilot colleague to) participate in a “knowledge transfer process” (I was once a Federal employee..), including flight demonstration(s). A congressional advocate may collaborate if doing so serves a career goal i.e. widely perceived as exposing
wasteful, counter-productive “anti-green” (even potentially dangerous) bureaucratic organizations/processes that are shown to prevent to necessary innovation. I will guess that such an advocate would particularly appreciate recognition via suitable publicity (such as a 60- minutes episode). The highly technical goals your team achieved in an area widely familiar to virtually every citizen would, I think, raise obvious questions: Why not? What is the “down side”? Who is benefitting from preventing this? The “villains” could be portrayed (I believe) not as “evil doers” but rather as victims of a larger issue- a society wherein “heavy lifting” and the risks- however well-managed attendant with introducing anything considered “disruptive” – is systemically avoided in a fashion which now directly impacts our country’s overall capabilities (I.e. strength and value).
We all wish the best for you and others in similar endeavors. Sincerely, Paul Mileski
Maybe we should try it here in the EU, there are already a few EASA stc’s so maybe they are more sensible in the ecological aspect..
You may contact me if you have interest.
The member of congress with pull in the GA world is Senator James Inhofe, of Oklahoma. Unfortunately he’s retiring at the end of this year.
Well, this article generated some response.
I spent most of my working life obtaining engine conversion STCs for small airplanes and helicopters. Piston to turbine, single engine to twin and gas to diesel. I also worked for a couple of OEMs. I would not say that the FAA was hard to work with nor were the rules particularly in error. But it does take an initial and continuing attitude of mutual cooperation to make it work. I do not get a sense of cooperation with this author.
Nevertheless, in today’s market I would aim this engine package at the homebuilt market as suggested by one of the commentators above. There are at least two reasons to avoid the certified market:
1) The market is too small to recover development and certification costs, benefit from high volume production, and have a salable price.
2) Consider the airframe OEM’s position. If your engine blows up and kills someone, who gets sued? The low bucks STCer or the OEM? Our legal system is not one steeped in fairness.
I regret you have the opinion we did not try to cooperate or try interacting with FAA in a spirit of cooperation. With any form of bi-latetal communication, it is difficult when one side ignores or refuses to respond…. especially if said side is a government entity who’s job it is to, at bare minimum, to facilitate or at least respond to formal inquires.
AH yess , let us quote Mr Bill Lear….THe FAA is a carbunckle on the ass of progress.
Stop and think however.The FAA want a fuel that they can certify to the current spec to be a plug and play replacement for 100LL . They are NOT going to chenge the specicfation in any way as the performance specifications of all GA aircraft are based on that ot the 80 Octane spec, with the proviso that you can go up in octane not down. That is why they do not care.
You are proposing an engine replacement. In all honesty you need to not only prove the engine, BUT if that engine weighs significantly more or changes the CG by an appreciable amount then a separate STC will be needed for each application. That will include software changes as those change the output therefore the stress and longevity. You may be doing a great job but in reality you will get your STC for that MODEL cessna 172. THe FAA assumse , rightly so, that a manufacturer did enough significant change to a model to warrant a new letter so that you have to prove your mod fits each model you wish to have application allowed . Before you get upset and think i am full of baloney, i have 42 years as an aerospace engineer, the manufacturer’s change model number sometimes for marketing reasons, other times to correct significant problems and they DO NOT HAVE TO STATE WHAT THOSE WERE!. so you as an independent developer are the one who has to prove your change is safe. this is not easy. Many many people have tried the chevy v8 v6, etc. the best ever that really worked int the diesel continental , which after all the rengineering now costs 57$ us..for what was a $4K engine, Porche tried with a modified 3 L aircooled engine, cost nearly 100K! and were all bought back from users with Lycoming engines replaced. Toyota tried with a leexus v8 got all the way to certification ans stopped as it became a 100K dollar motor also. you are traveling on well worn ground.
Why note sell the whole concept to China investors, and see if they would be interessed ?!?
Woudn’t it help teasing a bit FAA and authorities to move on with a better interest if competitors from Asia start jumping in for their own country?
you are not the first to suggest this. China already owns Continental as well as some others in the GA space and have several VC groups actively seeking more which we have spoken with. Interesting enough, about a year ago a China investment group purchased diesel piston upstart EPS in bankruptcy (same as the china investors did with a German company diesel engine went BK… this would become the Continental CD engine). This project started as a challenge for us and only became a possible commercial after the significant interest from GA owners and operators did we consider commercialization. But for it to have a chance it may likely need to be go outside US as you suggest.
Sad to see such innovation thwarted by the people who should be assisting. In Australia there is a push to increase weight in aircraft registered under RAAUS. Do search maybe into the future in might be possible under this framework. Although our CASA seems to follow FAA REGS.
I also think this is a perfect fit for the experimental category. Tune it for 260 Hp and sell to RV-10 and RV-14 owners all day long. Can’t beat the payback numbers in reduced fuel consumption. Sign me up!
I loved taking instruction 25 years ago, for the short time I could. Have enjoyed immensely riding float planes in AK, and often dreamt of doing it for myself. It’s always amazed me how ancient the technology is, a d wondered why it hadn’t advanced. This article and commentary explains it well.
An LS1 GM engine is the single most bullet proof motor in the world. For cars it’s the go to swap for everything. It’s absolutely the only answer forward to use the proven design and the hold up is the government. Both parties by the way, and I agree it’s about monopoly and lobby.
my clubs c172 is coming up on TBO and factory overhaul is $30K!!!!! For what??? Some new rings and pistons? No improvements or upgrades, same performance, same fuel, same emissions, same noise, same performance. I could buy a WHOLE brand new hybrid car for less. No other industry would allow or tolerate this. ….but we don’t have a free market thanks to FAA.
If this can done by such a small group self funding it, what’s Lycoming’s excuse?
What a scam. I hope they can get this to market as they will sell more than they can make. Thanks for trying, please keep trying.
I think its time for a class action lawsuit for dumbing us down with leaded gas and poisoning us all knowingly…. would provide the money for ur certification…. just a suggestion.
I’d like to join the calls for personal GA to be freed – altogether – from FAA regulation. The FAA doesn’t want to deal with it, and we don’t want to deal with them. The hang gliding, ultralight and now LSA niches have shown that the industry is more than capable of coming up with sensible standards by itself. I’m quite happy to do my own risk assessment on new products, or look to an expert of my choosing who will (e.g., Aviation Consumer) and I imagine most of us are.
This does leave the question of who will look out for the interests of the general public, the people who have airplanes flying overhead, or who ride along – or let their kids ride along – in flying machines that may not have been reviewed by the public.
There may be a limited role for the FAA here, such as in designating organizations who will certify noncommercial pilots, and organizations who will establish engineering standards. But, the fact is, the FAA’s involvement has actually made it MORE, not less, likely that airplanes will fall from the sky, by dramatically hindering modernization – as the story above illustrates – that could have made airplanes substantially safer by now. The question is not, who will protect the general public from the flying community; it is, who will protect the general public and the flying community from the FAA?
Again, the FAA does not want to deal with us. And we don’t want to deal with them. It’s time the FAA got out of the way of American innovation. We invented airplanes, after all.
I meant, “may not have been reviewed by the government” – not “may not have been reviewed by the public”.
Rooting for you and all the others out there who continue to innovate for GA. I’ll be watching your progress and looking for any petitions to sign in order to help out.
I would love to start a petition.
The FAA’s mission is to kill GA and it’s pilots if need be, as long as it kills GA so they don’t have to do their job. They keep us in the dark ages telling us it’s for our own good while plenty of technology exist readily exist to make it safer and save lives. My lawn mower is more advanced than my Cessna!
After reading the air quality report and levels of elevated lead caused by AVGAS from my local airport a mile away, I moved 10 miles away. Anyone who reads the studies around GA airports would do the same. FAA has fought tooth and nail for decades to protect their buddies at Lycoming and Continental so they can cram the same sh*t down our throats for half a century because the FAA gives them a monopoly.
So may small companies like these guys could have made a real difference, but we’re shut down by the corrupt FAA that will only deal with wealthy huge companies that can buy their way in like Boeing did with the B737 Max scam.
AOPA and EAA can do little and should start suing the FAA on a routine basis and expose them as the corrupt agency they are,,,,,,I would pay more dues if needed.
Small compiles like Corsair need our support and maybe a petition is a start, both to FAA and AOPA.
There are so many similar stories about FAA shutting down small companies that developed tech that GA needs, both that can save lives and the industry. Some years back I wanted to upgrade my vacuum gyro after it failed during a night flight (even after spending $1K rebuilding the system just a few years prior) but it was way too expensive and ended up buying a used gauge on eBay and hope for the best. The FAA is well aware GA is stuck in the past and continues to Deny us of tech that is affordable and can save lives….. FAA just don’t care and their plan seems to kill off GA and it’s pilots through attrition, and their plan is working.
I can’t even walk into a FSDO without an appointment. As a tax payer, I am furious our public FAA servants are so arrogant they feel they can just ignore a small company like this because they don’t have the money or political horsepower power as Boeing enjoyed with the B737 MAX. This is disgraceful.
This is a reply to the primary article there are many things I would like to comment on in the future but a real quick point is about someone’s failed attempt to certify a light to warn about low fuel. In fact the Army T-41B is actually a certificated design airplane (Cessna R-172E) although it was never sold on the civil market. It has two warning lights just under the fuel gauges. The were supposed to come on at about 9 gal remaining, (six gals useable) in each tank. So.e of them eventually ended up in civilian hands with a Std. C of A. Not sure of what happened to the low fuel lights when so.eone put a C of A on the airplane. I flew it as a Contract IP when the Bird Dogs went to the USAF and to Vietnam.
How about Australia ?
It’s massive, so they are familiar with small planes – and there is no language barrier, though obviously a different bureaucracy – but that is the case wherever.
Unfortunately you, like many, don’t understand the certification system, and how to get things approved. I retired two years ago after a 30 year career in MIDOs- but there are ways to get it done. You need to understand the system, the roles each group play, and the process of gaining type and production approval.
The industry is who decided, long ago, to ask the FAA to allow more delegation to DER’s in the approval process. That requires that anybody entering the certification process has to know in advance how the process works, what to apply for, and when. Others have done it. But they don’t teach obtaining STC approvals in universities or in repair stations.
I’m pretty sure that your engine proposais would be welcome, if you understood what you needed, and how you would show compliance with regs. It can be done.
Jim….I don’t think you understand our FAA issue. It’s not MIDO or ACO related, it’s FAA regulatory leadership at different departments. I am former DER and understand the process, but if I get shut down for even performing R&D for unfounded and indisputably false denials, AND get ignored for years without recourse to even discuss or dispute anything, there is little that can be done to get to certification process.
The FAA engineering entities as MIDO and ACO have been helpful and enthusiastic about the project, and were never an unreasonable hurdle, and regret you got impression otherwise.
My daughter recently had to schedule a IFR check ride 1.5 months out, which the DPE cancelled due to illness, and the earliest local DPE availability was over another month away….. this 3 month delay for a simple check ride cost us thousands in staying current. When I called the local FSDO to request an inspector perform the check ride, they said no and told us we can go out of state for other DPEs and fly there, realizing such efforts will cost thousands more to many that are already struggling to afford it….. yet, they refuse to appoint more DPEs even though there are many DPE candidates on waiting list.
I don’t blame the FSDO staff as much apathetic leadership that knows full well the fixable issues but continue to refuse to do anything about it. The fact is for any meaningful improvements to come to GA, it will take FAA leadership to take their mission of advancing aeronautics seriously and at least make it possible for small entities that don’t have deep pockets to get the support needed……. Any meaningful change will come from such small entities, not the legacy well-established monopolies that demonstrated their unwillingness to evolve under FAA’s protection.
I’m a current A&P student and would love some innovation in this field of old photocopied technical manuals that you can’t search. I think that if Corsair had some TikTok and Youtube influencers take some flights and film the engineering and push the idea to the General Aviation social media community there would be more of a response from the public. To the average person, DME, DPE, DER, and FSDO mean nothing, but can mean everything to gain a license or an approval. The industry has to modernize to keep pace with technology.