Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Natural Gas To Fly

A Husky takes the alternative route to the skies

Herrick sees flight schools as logical first adapters of dual-fuel technology, which he believes could spark a resurgence in GA. Training flights are relatively short (97% last less than 1.5 hours, Herrick says), so aircraft don't need large CNG reserves, and the fleets operate from one base, making a CNG-filling system a worthwhile investment. "That takes the cost of fuel down 80% and training becomes more affordable," said Herrick. "The key is lowering the cost of flying," he explained.
Changing CNG to avgas or vice versa creates a slight burble, nothing that raises the heartbeat.
Meanwhile, I was enjoying my stick time in the Husky, recalling adventures I've enjoyed over the years in the aircraft. I asked Anderson where he'd go if he were given a week with a Husky to fly wherever he wanted. "I would probably go up to Hell's Canyon and take my fishing pole," he said. "I'd go in the first day and land and fish, and leave the last day."

With N15NG having demonstrated its point, we headed back toward the airport.

A standard landing checklist is used when operating on CNG, and there's no difference in the shutdown procedure, either. Oh, and one more thing, as Anderson pointed out: With CNG as the power source, no residual fuel remains in the cylinders after shutdown, so ungrounded mags can't cause a propeller to turn unexpectedly.

With wider adaptation, engine OEMs would have incentive to design motors that could harness CNG's full power, and aircraft OEMs could integrate CNG tanks into their airframes. "We're at the cusp of our learning, there's so much we don't know about CNG and where it can take us," Horn said. "What we do know is that this works today," he said.

Think about it. No lead. No fouled plugs. No vapor lock. No long development time and no hefty premium for a "green" solution. No-brainer. Stu, please get a dual-fuel STC for the TSIO-360 Continental in my Mooney!

Labels: Piston Singles


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