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PMD

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This was forwarded to me by a good friend who is involved in this very question. There has been a lot of discussion about auto vs aircraft vs. certified aircraft engines of late, so I thought the topic deserves to be off on its own:



I enjoy 99% of what Bertorelli produces and agree with 90% - but this one is off the charts for a well done and timely treatment of a topic that lies at the root of continued/sustainable general aviation. So, I will reserve many of my own opinions and comments until the video has had a chance to sink in.
 

TFF

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Lots of money and shear will to win. I agree.

Most of the questions posed on forums are not how to make it or how to make it better, its why can’t I do this, it’s what can I get away with, what is the minimum effort I can expend. Dreamers waiting for it to be done for them. It’s one of the reasons why people like electric. They understand how to plug a fan into a wall socket, how much harder could an airplane or car could be? Still the same problem, lots of money and will, but they can ignore the scale to make it work because they know it works.

There is an alumni from my high school, my parent’s age not mine, who started a company that is world wide today. Good chance you interface with it weekly. His idea was different and he gambled every last penny, stole from his family their fortune, made big promises to employees to stick with him. Had to sit in front of Congress to explain why he should be allowed to continue. He was going to win or die trying. Look at lots of companies we dream about like Icon and Delta Hawk. Look at the people in the chain of command. Retired generals, venture capitalists. There is one company that has a video game programmer to make pretty simulations. These are not winners. They are there to pay for a bigger house until the money runs out. If the top guy isn’t the dreamer and doer like Musk, it’s not happening. You need the guy who will do it and not care about anything else.

Some are out there. The market is too small to make easy money on volume. It’s ten or twenty a year. It’s mom and pop size, not GE. That’s where it goes off the rails for the money. Money is never a problem if it will make some. Aviation is just breaking even for Boeing. Whoever thinks they will revolutionize doesn’t get aviation. It’s not a microwave or tv.
 

Sraight'nlevel

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I sorta have a feeling the electric world is going through the same phase what happened when aeroplanes were being developed....lotsa wild ideas...very few seem to get airborne.
 

tspear

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I sorta have a feeling the electric world is going through the same phase what happened when aeroplanes were being developed....lotsa wild ideas...very few seem to get airborne.

Yup, and KittyHawk has folded up shop. Now to be fair, the most promising parts/pieces concepts from that company seem to have been sold/split off over the years.

So as the Fed raises rates, the easy/cheap money will likely disappear. It will be interesting to see how that affects funding for the electric airplane market changes.

Tim
 

PMD

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I can tell you that there ARE people who are doggedly determined in the engine development business, but what I can also tell you that getting into the minds of the venture or other capital worlds are something the dreamers and schemers are good at, but those who are genuinely technically able are usually far too busy being technically able to develop the skillset to romance the financial types. Also, real business is not glamourous and the whole dotcom world of money for nothing works on pure sizzle and no steak (but lots of stake). What I can also see is that the eventual end of avgas (we have been predicting its ultimate demise for at least 30 years now) WILL mean going to SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel). Unlike the dribble of engines going into new builds this will require a fairly significant chunk of hardware to retrofit the surviving airframes that litter the world at this time.

There is a real opportunity out there, but it is well hidden even today. The mere fact that China has taken up such a strategic position in both genav and especially genav compression ignition engines should tell you that not everyone is asleep at this switch.
 

Vigilant1

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I can tell you that there ARE people who are doggedly determined in the engine development business, but what I can also tell you that getting into the minds of the venture or other capital worlds are something the dreamers and schemers are good at, but those who are genuinely technically able are usually far too busy being technically able to develop the skillset to romance the financial types. Also, real business is not glamourous and the whole dotcom world of money for nothing works on pure sizzle and no steak (but lots of stake). What I can also see is that the eventual end of avgas (we have been predicting its ultimate demise for at least 30 years now) WILL mean going to SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel). Unlike the dribble of engines going into new builds this will require a fairly significant chunk of hardware to retrofit the surviving airframes that litter the world at this time.

There is a real opportunity out there, but it is well hidden even today. The mere fact that China has taken up such a strategic position in both genav and especially genav compression ignition engines should tell you that not everyone is asleep at this switch.
Anyone who invested according to the actions of the brilliant central planners in Beijing would now own a chunk of severely devalued Chinese real estate. And some railways to nowhere. They ain't nimble and they ain't especially good at forecasting the future (at least, not better than folks putting their OWN money at risk with fewer political constraints).

IMO, there's no reason to believe liquid aviation fuels will transition to more expensive "sustainable" fuels (spark ignition or compression ignition) any faster than surface vehicles do. Heck, in the US, GA is getting rid of TEL 4 decades AFTER surface vehicles did.

The GA market (esp the smaller aircraft end of it) is apparently too small to profitably support development of a clean-sheet engine. Other uses of capital can make more money. We'll continue to see incremental improvements in existing purpose-built aircraft engines and perhaps occasional adaptations of mass produced engines from other applications. That's "good enough."
 
Last edited:

Dan Thomas

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This was forwarded to me by a good friend who is involved in this very question. There has been a lot of discussion about auto vs aircraft vs. certified aircraft engines of late, so I thought the topic deserves to be off on its own:



I enjoy 99% of what Bertorelli produces and agree with 90% - but this one is off the charts for a well done and timely treatment of a topic that lies at the root of continued/sustainable general aviation. So, I will reserve many of my own opinions and comments until the video has had a chance to sink in.

Yup. Exactly. It's so easy, isn't it?
 

Riggerrob

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Note how the only successful engines power flying schools with large fleets (e.g. Diamond Twin). You need to sell hundreds of engines to break even. You also need mechanics with plenty of experience on that particular engine. You are only going to gain that experience with flying schools or commuter operations that fly each airplane many hundreds of hours per year. Basically, you need a fleet that will wear out (2,000 hours TBO) engines every year or three .... long before they rust out.
In comparison, most privately owned (averaging 50 hours per year) airplane engines rust out before they wear out.
 

PMD

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It is true that there are many more ways to make a lot more money than being in ANY part of piston engine general aviation. You might have noticed when the '08 crash that didn't happen happened, there was a sharp, almost total drop of in numbers of recip shipments, but a strong and quick rebound in the turbine world. While the airframe count was much less from '09 on the dollar value barely flickered and continued to grow. A sharp move from entrepreneur-bought aircraft to OPiuM paid for airplanes. Lines up perfectly with the shift in our economy. If geopolitics ever solves THAT problem, actual business people instead of financiers may once again be buying airplanes.
 

Dan Thomas

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Note how the only successful engines power flying schools with large fleets (e.g. Diamond Twin). You need to sell hundreds of engines to break even.
The Austro's sales success is because the company that makes it is putting it in its DA40 twins. Captive market. I think it would take more than hundreds of new-design engines to break even. Thousands, probably.
 

PMD

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At $100 grand a pop for a bigger engine, it would STILL take something in the hundreds a year for many years to recover the average cost of R&D, certification and production tooling. This is why what AVIC (i.e. Continental) did with all new flexible manufacturing tooling was a very smart move. Same tool can make parts of 0-200, 135 technify, IO-550, etc.
 
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