The Aerocomp News

Volume 4 Issue 1 ONLINE EDITION

Year 2000

Will Turbine Engines Soon Replace Piston Powerplants?

We love the exhilarating rush of ripping off the runway in a blistering takeoff that leaves bystanders in awe of our airplane's capabilities. And cruising comfortably above the clouds in a smooth, vibration-free, reliable turbine-powered airplane is a fantastic way to travel. There's no doubt that the statistical reliability, power, and low maintenance requirements of turbine engines makes them very attractive.

It's only recently that installation of safe, reliable, turbine engines has started to become possible for owners of personal airplanes. In the kit-built airplane arena, Aerocomp, Inc. has led the way.

During the past 18 months, the popularity of Aerocomp's Walter 601-powered airplanes has been widely noticed. Our success installing and flying these engines has drawn the attention of the industry, and other manufacturers are now working feverishly, trying to duplicate our achievements.

As this article goes to print, there are seven (7) turbine-powered Aerocomp airplanes flying. Over 30 more are under construction. Soon, turbine-powered Aerocomp airplanes will be a regular sight at airshows and fly-ins around the world. This has led many prospective customers to ask, "What is the future of piston-powered airplanes?"

At Aerocomp, Inc., we believe that piston-powered airplanes will continue to be popular for many years.

Although we love flying our turbine-powered airplanes, they are specialty airplanes, best suited to the demands of performance aficionados. The turbine-powered airplanes are not suitable for everyone, for the following reasons:

1) Price
Although used turbine engines are now available at prices competitive with freshly overhauled piston engines, they're not "cheap". Fuel consumption is significant. Budget considerations continue to be a significant factor.

2) Performance
Turbine engines offer pilots the ability to equip their personal airplanes with far more power than is really necessary for recreational flights. Even if the airframe is beefed up to safely accommodate the higher horsepower, the increased performance capability is significantly more than most private pilots are accustomed to. At Aerocomp, we've noticed that even experienced piston pilots are often reluctant to fully utilize the power available to them with a turbine engine. It's not uncommon for a piston pilot, transitioning for the first time to a powerful turbine-powered personal airplane, to spend most of his time flying around at near-idle power settings. Controlling the airplane throughout its wide speed range is a new task for pilots accustomed to lower power-to-weight ratios.

3) Familiarity
Few private pilots have experience operating turbine engines, and most small-town aircraft maintenance facilities have no experience maintaining them. This unfamiliarity with turbine engines in small aircraft affects their popularity. Until turbine engines become more common in light single-engine airplanes, they will continue to be something of a novelty — drawing admiration and stares from disbelieving bystanders, who marvel at the capabilities of turbine-powered aircraft, but are reluctant to try them for themselves.


Does Aerocomp still offer and support piston-powered airplanes?
--> Absolutely, Yes!

We understand that turbine engines are not suited for everyone.

Piston engines will continue to be a suitable and popular engine choice among personal airplane owners for many years. We continue to sell and fully support piston-powered versions of our products, and intend to continue doing so for many years.

Unfortunately, piston-powered airplanes don't garnish as much attention from the press, so most recent articles published about our products have concentrated on the exciting developments in turbine engine installations. However, despite the lack of press, we continue to make excellent buys on new and used Lycoming, Continental, and Franklin powerplants available to our customers, and we fully support and encourage the use of piston aircraft engines in our products.

Aerocomp, Inc. fully supports and encourages the use of Lycoming, Continental, and Franklin powerplants in our products. Excellent buys on new, overhauled, and used piston powerplants are available.


Special Purchase used piston engines are frequently listed on the Aerocomp, Inc. web site at 

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