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Airbus tests V8 diesel helicopter

November 18, 2015

An advanced 4.6-litre V8 diesel engine is being tested by Airbus Helicopters in an H120 testbed helicopter and has made its first flight.

Airbus Helicopters successfully completed the maiden flight of the high-compression engine demonstrator helicopter last Friday, 6 November, at the company’s Marignane Airport HQ in south-west France.

The development and flight test of this new technology demonstrator is part of the European Clean Sky initiative’s Green Rotorcraft Integrated Technology Demonstrator programme.

“The first result of the 30-minute flight confirms the advantages of new-technology high-compression piston engines for rotorcraft in offering reduced emissions,” said Tomasz Krysinski, Head of Research and Innovation at Airbus Helicopters. “Up to 50% lower fuel consumption depending on duty cycle, nearly doubled range and enhanced operations in hot and high conditions.”

Airbus Helicopters’ test flights will focus on the right power-to-weight ratios to make high-compression engines sustainable alternatives to the turbine powerplants typically used in the helicopter industry.

The 4.6-litre high-compression piston engine has several technologies already applied on advanced self-ignition engines, and runs on widely-available kerosene fuel used in aviation engines. Its V8 design has the two sets of cylinders oriented at a 90 degrees angle to each other, with a high-pressure common-rail direct injection and one turbocharger per cylinder bank.

Other features include fully-machined aluminum blocks and titanium connecting rods, pistons and liners made of steel, liquid-cooling and a dry sump management method for the lubricating motor oil as used on aerobatic aircraft and race cars.

Environmental targets of the Clean Sky programme are to reduce specific fuel consumption by 30 percent, CO2 emissions by 40 percent and NOx by 53 percent.

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