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Cranfield PFA rally 2000

Cranfield PFA Rally Report 23-25 June

The annual Popular Flying Association Rally for UK homebuilders and their friends is Europe’s biggest event of its kind. This year it drew a crowd from the UK, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, USA and Australia and so it was the place to be to test the customer and engineering perspectives on the Wilksch range of turbocharged aero-diesels.

Each day the message was loud and clear: " We want them , and we want them now!"

The Wilksch Partner Centre had prototypes of the four cylinder 160/200hp, the 120/150 hp three, and the proof of concept 80hp twin that flew nearly three years ago.

Outside were three airframe installations being developed with experienced partners:

  • JB Aerodesigns showed a WAM120 and the fully stressed mount they have developed for the Jodel range in a D1050 that will fly later this year. They plan to offer a firewall forward deal for Jodels.
  • Bill Wynne showed a WAM120 snugly fitted to his Europa. It was flown by co-developer Graham Singleton at the end of last year. The engine has completed 100 hours of testing since.
  • In anticipation of Certification, there was also a trial fit of a WAM120 on a Cessna 150.

Preparations are also in hand for installation in a Long-EZ, RV9 and Glastar.

People loved the weight – 120hp for about the weight of an O-200, and only 15kgs more for the 160hp model.

They loved the simplicity – no ignition electrics, no carburettor, negligible carbon monoxide and simple instalation.

They loved the positive impact on other practical operating issues, too.

The WAM-CITEC series will be quiet, what with a turbo to take the energy out of the exhaust and then a full muffler as well.

Maintenance? Spin on a new oil filter every 50 hours or so, otherwise leave it alone until maybe 500 hours when the injectors will be checked as well.

Warm up? Try just two minutes even in freezing conditions.   That’s all the WAM-CITEC will need.

Fuel burn? In the cruise, the WAM120 will take 15 – 20 litres an hour of Jet A-1, or similar. The test programme is being run on red diesel, in fact.

Lots of mental arithmetic went on, and the answers seemed compelling for builders and those facing a flat four overhaul as well. A lot of thoughtful people left the stand, perhaps already working on the back home sales pitch.

There were 100 expressions of interest and , whilst the first batch of engines for 2001 have all been reserved (mine included), a number of reservations for Q1 2002 delivery were also made. The payment of a 5% deposit into a Trust Account secures a GBP10k fixed price delivery (investors will receive more favourable terms).

Technical interest was stimulated by the new, low pressure supercharger that the Wilksch team has developed in partnership with Prof Stosic at City University, London. It provides air flow for engine start, nice smooth idling and a good throttle response after a long descent or a glide approach, say. Along with the fuel pump, alternator and coolant pump, it will be driven off a gear train in the production engines. No belts, or chains.

The piston and spherical con-rod small end came in for some flak until people learned of the Engineers’ mission to eliminate all sources of mid-life overhauls. This traditionally weak link in 2-stroke diesels will not spoil all the benefits for CITEC users, given the large, pressure fed bearing surface that is provided.

Both the blower and the piston are being patented by Wilksch Airmotive.

Many probings of the development agenda revealed the future use of aluminium liners to reduce weight, improved head to cylinder seals.

One visitor to the Partner centre was Jon Johanssen, recently arrived in the UK (again) over the North Pole in his RV4. Jon has since left for Oshkosh and then the Vans homecoming for completed RV’s held at the factory in Washington State. Then it’s back home over the Pole.  Jon’s next build project will be an RV8a and he will be looking to Wilksch to provide him with a diesel 160hp option by the time he’s ready. A worthwhile reduction in frontal area there!

Other innovators to take a close look at the WAM series over the weekend were Richard Noble and Keith Duckworth, whilst early visitors on the Friday were a team from the Department of Trade and Industry who have been major sponsors of this new British design.

Straight after the show the WAM-120 was taken out of Bill Wynne’s Europa and set up in the test cell to complete a full 50 hour test cycle to JAR-22H requirements, which will provide part of the submission to PFA Engineering for their approval.

During the show Mark Wilksch made the first of a series of presentations to a group of PFA Inspectors and set an early December date for a Strut presentation at White Waltham (contact Len Nash for details len@shirley53.fsnet.co.uk). The Team at Wilksch Airmotive will be pleased to meet other PFA Struts, and co-ordinators should e-mail with expressions of interest for the winter period.

Tony Clarry


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