Aircraft Reciprocating Engine Designs new advances

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Political concerns, as well as public awareness of the environmental impacts brought on by the development of civil aviation, have risen over the last 30 years. As concern for the atmosphere continues to increase, attempts are still being made to resolve emissions of carbon and nitrogen oxides into the environment. According to the 2001 report of the Advisory Council on Aeronautical Studies, the primary objective was to reduce pollution from the increasing number of airlines. Airlines has also shown growing attempts to reduce operating costs in order to preserve profitability. This has brought about the need for advances in the design of Aircraft Reciprocating Engine to (or “intending to”) reducing the impact the engine emissions have on the environment.

The technology used in the development of reciprocating engines for aircraft has grown over the past 30 to 40 years, although their outward look has not received the same amount of makeover (Pope, 2012). A common misconception is that since engines made by the likes of Lycoming, Continental or Rotax have the same look as those that have been in use by GA aircraft over the years, there have not been advances in the past three or four decades.

A significant and noticeable improvement for reciprocating engines is in the context of the build as well as quality. Millions have gone into automation of the manufacturing process to establish better tolerances leading to an improvement in their durability. Manufacturers have also perfected fuel delivery components for reciprocating engines, introduced better coating for essential elements, and maybe the greatest breakthrough of all is the linking of engines to advanced computers with the ability to monitor all conceivable parameters of the engine (Pope, 2012). There have been improvements in turbocharger technology, and some manufacturers are currently employing alternative technology with regards to fuel injection.

The stride of advancement has brought about changes in the reciprocating engine production, and this started with switching to improved machines that are capable of cutting metal very close accuracies. The General aviation propulsion diesel engine is a case in point. This engine was designed to cater for light aircraft. This engine’s design allows for cost-effective production and the elimination of the use of leaded fuel (Pope, 2012). This design has improved its reliability, made it easy to operate and has allowed for a reduction in noise levels. This engine was developed through a partnership between Teledyne Continental Motors and NASA (NASA, 2013). Although diesel engines have been known for their heavyweight, the GAAP technology has integrated two stroke cycles and innovation leading to a light engine that is better than other diesel engines. Consequently, the GAAP engine, which combines superior low-speed propellers, provides a low engine note and is economical.

Perhaps a groundbreaking advancement that has changed several parameters of the jet engine is the development of the FJX-2 Turbofan Engine. Recent aircraft engines have brought about user friendliness and compliance with environmental regulations. Development of FJX-2 engines under the GAAP program has brought about a reduction in the cost of developing turbine engines as well as revolutionized the personal transportation (NASA, 2013). With the use of the FJX-2, new classes of aircraft can be designed, which are affordable, safe, efficient, and fast. They also come at the reasonably lower price compared to earlier models, and they have availed commercial jets to the aviation industry, and this includes engines with cruising speeds of up to 440 mph as well as the ability to circumvent inclement weather.

With changes in the weight to thrust ratio, it now possible to develop engines that weight as little as 100 pounds but which offer significant thrust. For instance, the FJX-2, which makes use of the high bypass ratio turbofans can deliver up to 700 pounds regarding thrust at a body weight of between 85 and 100 pounds. This weight is less than a quarter of that of an ordinary piston engine with the same functional capability. To incur lower costs, the team that developed the FJX-2 borrowed from studies undertaken in the development of automotive engines that run on gas (NASA, 2013). A lot of emphases went into the simplification of designs and reduction of the number of components that went into the engine.

A significant difference between the engines in use today and those that were faced out is the integration of full authority digitized control of the engine, otherwise known as fadec. Digitized control has been in use for a long time. However, it has received an upgrade over the years. Currently, Continental and Lycoming are developing reciprocating engines that have a fully electronic ignition system, sequential engine injection and port control as well as management of motor functions that are capable of monitoring all aspects of the engine (Pope, 2012). With this design, pilots do not need to be concerned about enriching or leaning with a decrease or increase in altitude. The future of reciprocating engines is bright and the next technology will bright with it numerous designs that will allow for the use of alternatives forms of fuel.


NASA. (2013). Small Aircraft Propulsion: The Future Is Here. Retrieved 21 April 2017, from

Pope, S. (2012). Piston Engine Aircraft Technology. Flying Magazine. Retrieved 21 April 2017, from

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