Friday, July 26th 2013
CONTACTS: Stu Horn, Aviat Aircraft, Inc.
Suzanne Herrick, Fedoruk & Associates, Inc.
Cell: 612-247-3079, firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
World’s First Dual Fuel, CNG Piston Powered Aircraft
To Be Unveiled At AirVenture 2013
Innovative Aircraft Operates on Compressed Natural Gas and Aviation Gasoline
Media: Click on any of the photos to download a high resolution version of the file.
OSHKOSH, WIS. (JULY 26, 2013) – Airplane manufacturer Aviat Aircraft, Inc. and Minneapolis-based Aviation Foundation of America, Inc. today announced the scheduled unveiling of the first dual fuel, piston powered aircraft to operate on both compressed natural gas (CNG) and aviation gasoline. The Aviat Husky CNG will be on display outside the Innovations Pavilion throughout AirVenture 2013 which takes place in Oshkosh, Wis., from July 29 through Aug. 4. The organizations will host a news conference on July 31 at 9:30 a.m. CDT in front of the aircraft at the Innovations Pavilion.
“This is a remarkable proof-of-concept airplane,” said Stu Horn, president of Aviat Aircraft. “While adapting our standard Husky aircraft into this dual fuel configuration was not without challenges, it was well worth it. The performance and ease of operations have exceeded our expectations.”
The Aviat Husky CNG, which flew more than 1,000 miles from Aviat’s headquarters in Afton, Wy., to be at AirVenture, can be powered by CNG or 100LL aviation gasoline with the flip of a switch. It is a standard Aviat Husky A1-C that has been fitted with a CNG fuel tank in addition to its standard aviation gasoline tanks with a capacity of 50 gallons. The aircraft is powered by a 200 h.p., four cylinder Lycoming aircraft engine with a cruise speed of 143 m.p.h. The flight endurance at 65 percent power setting is approximately seven hours.
From Concept to Reality
Greg Herrick, president of the Aviation Foundation of America approached Aviat’s president in early 2013 with the idea of building an aircraft to demonstrate the advantages natural gas can offer general aviation aircraft.
“Among the many advantage of using CNG are fuel cost savings, cleaner burning fuel and no lead emissions,” said Greg Herrick, president of the Aviation Foundation of America. “I’m impressed with how Aviat readily agreed to tackle this project, working with a team of engineers and craftsmen within the aviation and natural gas industries. The result is a sophisticated solution which can be readily applied to a variety of piston powered aircraft.”
Compressed natural gas power is up to 80 percent less expensive than the national average of $6-per-gallon aviation gasoline. There is no lead in compressed natural gas, the presence of which is currently a significant issue with aviation gasoline. It is also a much cleaner burning fuel, reducing smog pollutants by 90 percent and reducing CO2 emissions by 30 percent. Engine oil remains significantly cleaner therefore improving engine life, while aircraft performance is enhanced as CNG typically burns 138 octane versus the current 100 octane of aviation gasoline.
“One aspect we’re particularly excited about is the opportunity to dramatically reduce the cost of learning to fly,” added Herrick. “If a flight school installs a simple CNG refueling station they can cut the cost for the student’s fuel, perhaps by thousands of dollars. And, the fuel is available where ever there is a natural gas line.”
About Aviat Aircraft and the Husky A-1C
Aviat Aircraft of Afton, Wy., manufactures the Husky, Pitts Special and complete kits for the Eagle biplane. The Husky, “America’s favorite taildragger,” has become the most versatile aircraft in its class. It is designed for off-airport landings, for recreational flying as well as observation and cargo hauling operations. It can be flown at any time of the year and needs little more than a clearing to be able to land. For more information, visit www.AviatAircraft.com and www.AviatAircraft.com/CNG
About the Aviation Foundation of America
Minneapolis-based Aviation Foundation of America is a 501(c)3 public charity designed to preserve and promote America’s aviation heritage at a grassroots level through initiatives such as historic flight re-creations, airport preservation projects, educational programs and endeavors that reduce barriers to flying.
Aviat Husky CNG
Questions and Answers
Q: Is this a “stock” Husky?
A: With the exception of the CNG fuel tank, associated fuel controls and 10:1 engine compression ratio, this is a stock Husky.
Q: Why a Husky?
A: Under Stu Horn's leadership, Aviat Aircraft is an innovative, entrepreneurial company and he is excited about new approaches in aircraft design. The Husky is a natural demonstration platform. Its 200 h.p. engine is quite typical of most single engine piston powered aircraft today. Its high utility design appeals to the recreational pilot and is a great example of the freedom of the American spirit.
Q: How did this project begin? How long did it take?
A: Greg Herrick, who owns two Aviat Husky aircraft, began researching the viability of a CNG aircraft last year. In early 2013 he approached Stu Horn, president of Aviat Aircraft, about the idea which Stu immediately embraced. Stu and his team began the work resulting in the demonstration aircraft announced July 26, 2013 and unveiled at AirVenture Oshkosh 2013.
Q: What was the inspiration?
A: Like many involved in general aviation, Herrick is interested in lowering the cost of flying and flight training. In addition, issues have arisen which call into question the long term availability of 100LL aviation gasoline. These issues include lead content, availability and cost. Natural gas resolves many of these issues, offering a viable alternative. Horn is also interested in these issues which dovetail nicely into Aviat Aircraft's spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation. The two make a great team in this effort.
Q: What is the source of the Natural Gas?
A: America produces more than 90% of the natural gas it uses. And, natural gas is considered a renewable resource with Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) derived from biological processes. The natural gas we use is the same natural gas used in homes and offices everywhere. If you have a natural gas water heater in your hangar, you have a source for aviation gas already in place.
Q: What equipment is required to fill an aviation CNG fuel tank?
A: There are home, business and industrial CNG filling equipment available today. Home units are projected to be selling for around $500 by 2014 with larger and faster equipment costing more.
Q: What is the difference between CNG and propane?
A: Natural gas is not propane. While natural gas occurs in nature as a mixture of methane and other gases, propane is actually a byproduct of both petroleum refining and natural gas processing. Though it has a higher energy content, it is up to six times more expensive than CNG and must be delivered by truck.
Q: What is the fuel capacity of this demonstration aircraft?
A: The Husky’s gasoline capacity is 52 gallons of 100LL, 50 of which is useable. In this demonstration aircraft both the CNG and 100LL tanks may be filled to capacity and still carry a 220 lb. pilot and 70 lbs. of gear.
Q: What performance differences have you noticed between CNG and 100LL aviation gasoline?
A: We have noted several performance advantages using CNG over aviation gasoline. One is increased power output given that octane rating of natural gas is typically 138 vs. aviation gasoline’s 100. Exhaust gas and cylinder head temperatures are running approximately 20 °F cooler allowing the pilot to maintain more advantageous engine operating temperatures. This is particularly advantageous during climb. As well, we believe engine performance at higher altitudes will prove to be better because of the higher octane rating of CNG. We have also noted that engine starts are also instantaneous with no “hot start” issues and there is no risk of “vapor lock.”
Q: What interface is there between the pilot and the fuel control issue that is different from the standard fuel injected Husky?
A: The CNG fuel control system uses electronic ignition. Computer controlled operational parameters have been integrated to manage fuel flow taking into account factors such as density altitude and engine timing variations. Manual timing adjustments are available to the pilot but are not necessary.
Q: What is the pressure of the compressed natural gas in the CNG cylinder?
A: It is the transportation industry standard of 3600 psi.
Q: What is the relative safety of CNG tanks?
A: All tanks used in CNG vehicles must meet stringent safety standards and have a superb safety record. CNG cylinders are put through exhaustive and extreme tests. These tests include: hydraulic cycle pressure, low temperature pressure cycling, drop impact, bonfires, environmental/chemical exposure, damage tolerance and gunfire test, vibration, drag and hydraulic crush tests. In addition tanks include emergency pressure relief device (PRD) which vents rapidly outside the cabin.
Q: How do you fill the CNG tanks?
A: The tank in this particular aircraft is removable and can be refilled using a CNG refilling system, either personal or at a commercial location. If the tank were to be non-removable it would be filled from a nearby CNG refueling system. There are systems for your garage and hangar or larger commercial type installations available.
Q: What do you do for fuel on a cross country flight?
A: This is a dual fuel aircraft so you are able to fly anywhere 100LL AVGAS is available. While most airports do not yet have CNG refueling systems, installation of a natural gas line is easily accomplished. Removable tanks may also be removed and taken to a refueling station. With the extraordinary cost savings offered by CNG we can see a growing network of FBOs with flight schools installing this equipment.
Q: What are the advantages in a flight training environment?
A: In addition to all of the other advantages of CNG it offers student pilots the very real opportunity to lower the cost of learning to fly. If a training plane uses 10 gallons per hour, the cost of fuel alone could be reduced by $40-$60 per hour. This would make it very advantageous for a flight school to install CNG refueling equipment on site, and even switch to 100% CNG aircraft as most training flights are in the general vicinity of the airport.
Of note is the fact that 88 percent of personal operations flights last less than 1.5 hours, and 75 percent less than 1 hour. The percentage of shorter flight durations are even higher for instructional airplanes, where 97 percent of the flights last less than 1.5 hours, and 86 percent less than 1 hour. The average flight durations for airplanes in the two types of operations varied from 25 min to 1 hour and 27 minutes for personal operations and from 19 minutes to 53 minutes for instructional operations.
Q: How long can you fly the Husky CNG on full fuel tanks?
A: The demonstration aircraft can be flown approximately seven hours at a 65 percent power setting.
Q: What does GGE mean and how does that relate to AVGAS?
A: GGE stands for “gas gallon equivalent,” that is the amount of compressed natural gas it takes to equal approximately one gallon of gasoline in terms of energy. One GGE of natural gas is 123 cubic feet and weighs approximately 5.66 lbs. vs. 6.01 lbs. for 100LL AVGAS.
Q: How much lead is contained in compressed natural gas?
Q: In addition to no lead in CNG, are there other environmental advantages in using compressed natural gas?
A: In addition to having no lead in this fuel, there are numerous other environmental advantages. These include:
• Little or no spills, evaporation or emissions during fueling, which today accounts for nearly 50% of a gasoline vehicle’s total hydrocarbon emissions.
• The reduction of smog particulates by 90 percent.
• The reduction of CO2 emissions by 30 percent.
• Fewer greenhouse gas emissions including carbon monoxide, non-methane hydrocarbon and NOx.
Q: What are other advantages for the operator?
A: Natural gas is simply a cleaner burning fuel. If you are a pilot you know the dangers posed by carbon monoxide buildup in the cabin. Burning CNG reduces carbon monoxide by 90 to 97 percent significantly lowering this hazard.
We anticipate a three to four time increase in the life of lubricating oils because CNG does not contaminate and dilute crankcase oil. Engines will last longer, spark plugs will not foul, exhaust and exteriors will remain cleaner, etc.
Q: Are there any special starting requirements with CNG?
A: Starting on CNG is actually instantaneous and it eliminates “hot starts.” If using CNG immediately after starting, engine oil temperature must be allowed time to warm as it is used to aid in the prevention of ice formation in the gas pressure regulator.
Q: What would a dual fuel system add to the cost of a typical Husky?
A: In a production environment, the company estimates the dual fuel CNG option may add between $12,000 and $15,000 to the base price of a gasoline powered aircraft.
Q: What is the additional weight of a typical CNG system in a GA aircraft?
A: Of course that depends on the aircraft, and the CNG system being installed. The tank is definitely the largest factor. For example the all-composite “Type 4” tank we installed for this demonstration aircraft has a GGE of 9.2 gallons (35 liters) and weights 95 lbs. empty. In this rapidly advancing field, tanks keep getting lighter and are available in a variety of capacities with even greater weight efficiencies. The balance of the non-structural materials is perhaps 10 lbs.
Q: Were there any modifications made to the engine itself?
A: The only modification made to the engine, a Lycoming IO-360-A1 D6, was the installation of new pistons to increase the compression ratio from 8.50:1 to 10:1
MEDIA: Click on any of the photos to download a high resolution jpg.
©2013 Aviat Aircraft, Inc.