Online Community of Zenith Builders and Flyers
HondaFitAircraftEngine-Owners update as posted at:
This will be Pt. 1 of a short series on Raven Redrives goals and intended market for our new Honda® Jazz/Fit 1.5L 115/140+HP turbo engine.
Our now 18 year long endeavor to 'keep flying affordable through the adaptation of proven and cutting edge automotive technology adapted for aircraft' will come to completion with the Honda® engine conversion. Since day one we have always considered an affordable, reliable, fuel efficient, and powerful alternative aircraft engine to be the holy grail of a truly affordable homebuilt aircraft project. The engine is the most expensive component and I have always said in my educational forums that a project where the cost of the engine exceeds the cost of the rest of the whole aircraft kit is counter productive. Rotax®, the industry leader, has developed a powerful lightweight engine package and one that has successfully proven itself to be a very reliable engine for the homebuilt market. The fact that a 912 engine costs about as much as a flying used Cessna® 152 aircraft, however, makes what we call 'affordable flying' a very difficult goal to
attain. At the same time, we would be the first to say that if we had to develop an entire new Light Sport engine design from the ground up, do the testing, and manufacture a new engine with rigorus quality control- we would be hard pressed to come in at a price point much lower than the Rotax® 912 series engines because of the small quantity niche market that aviation really is.
Our successful track record in this industry, where many companies come and go, is based on choosing the right lightweight, powerful and reliable base engine that is already produced in large numbers and for which there is a ready source of core engines and aftermarket parts. We have met or exceeded all our initial goals for our Geo®/Suzuki® engine conversions and expect a similar result with the new Honda® engines we are adding to our product line. By 'up cycling' a high volume lightweight aluminum fuel injected production auto engine and adapting it for aircraft use, we can keep the overall cost down. The real challenge to this process is how one executes the adaptation. It will have to include a reduction drive, overall weight savings, custom intake, custom exhaust, aftermarket ECU controlled ignition and fuel injection, cooling system, charging system, air filter/intake, and engine mounting system--- all optimized for our intended alternative
engine for aircraft use. We only save significant $$$ on those items that we can retain and adapt form the original automotive use or source through aftermarket auto parts vendors. All the components we add for adaptation to aircraft also add significantly to the overall cost and have to work seamlessly together and undergo testing in their new environment.
Complete engine packages built up around a late model low time used engine typically can still come in at a price point 1/2 the cost or less of an equivalent Rotax® engine. If we market a Master Kit with Reduction Drive and accessory components that are installed by the builder on his own engine, as we have done with our Suzuki® engines from day one, we can get the overall cost down to 1/3 the cost of an equivalent power plant from the industry leader. This is what we mean in practical terms and real world number by keeping flying truly affordable. We have helped a few hundred builders through this process and now know it inside and out.
Reviewing the past 18 years, the only thing that we plan to do differently with our new Honda® engine conversion is to first target the person looking for a complete FWF engine package in our marketing. We will only be considering expanding into ReDuction Drive Kits later after a few initial complete engine packages are out building flight time. We are also clear that trying to adapt our custom engine conversions to fit as many aircraft applications as possible as we have done in the past is counter productive. We designed our successful flat profile Suzuki® 'SideWinder' 1300SVS 90/115 HP engine package over 10 years ago now which fits in the same horizontal mounting profile as the Rotax® 912 series engine. With the Honda® we are taking a radical, new, and different cutting edge approach and redesigning the complete engine package around a vertical engine layout. A lower parts count, lighter weight, smaller frontal profile, lower drag, racier
looking engine package is our goal this time around. We will design the FWF to optimize weight and performance from the prop back. We are starting this new approach for the popular Zenith® aircraft, one of the industry leaders, and targeting our new Honda® engine for their 650 and 750 aircraft which share almost the same firewall layout.
That's all the info for today. (To be continued with Parts 2 & 3 later)
Raven Redrives Inc.