FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: AAI Announces AE317 Will Power Updated Version of Skytutor Trainer
Automation Aero Industries is proud to announce that the updated Skytutor II basic trainer will be powered by the Dragawn Industries AE317-D1R engine. This lightweight, compact inline-3 engine will be a considerable improvement over the current-generation Skytutor's Lycoming O-235 engine in terms of weight, cost and performance. AAI listened to the input from hundreds of flying schools, from single-aircraft operations all the way up to the very largest collegiate flight training operations to identify the most critical attributes in a flight trainer.
The AE317 powerplant, complete with a slow-turning, 66-inch constant-speed propeller, is sixty pounds lighter than the O-235, has a longer TBO and produces more power over a wider range of flight conditions, all while matching the outgoing powerplant's cost. The performance increase over the O-235-powered Skytutor 1 is dramatic; a 100-foot improvement in takeoff roll, a 25% increase in climb rate, a cruise speed eight knots faster and a nearly 4000-foot improvement in service ceiling. Additionally, the Dragawn-powered Skytutor II is almost 90 percent quieter than the Skytutor 1, which will open up new opportunities for extended operations at noise-sensitive airports.
The Skytutor II is available for pre-order immediately, with deliveries beginning after FAA approval in June of 2017. Prices start at $152,179; refer to your local AAI sales representative for up-to-date pricing and delivery timing.
Seventh Place - Riso
This engine placed well on cost and reliability, narrowly missing out on the top score in each category, but it was let down considerably by weight and below-average performance. Most of the other engines here were flat-rated and thus performed better over a wider range of altitudes, and the size of the engine that was needed to be direct-drive was enough that it ate considerably into the payload of the aircraft - to the point that a 200-pound adult pilot would be limited to a 167-pound flying instructor with the tanks full (not like that's really an issue in reality - have you seen what they pay flying instructors?! )
Sixth Place - one85db
While the LoG-1 lost out on reliability, payload and performance, it ws the big winner in terms of cost, finishing just ahead of Riso and way ahead of nearly every other competitor. Being a small and compact inline-3 meant that while the engine was made entirely of cast iron, it did not eat trermendously badly into the payload of the aircraft, and is actually fairly close to the weight of the real-life Lycoming O-235 and Continental O-200 engines, the dominant engines in this size class. The fixed-pitch propeller here was optimised for takeoff performance, at the detriment of climb and cruise performance.
Fifth Place - koolkei
The Iro 240 was a jack of all trades, but as the saying also goes, the master of none. It was competent in nearly every category, with at least adequate performance in every category, but the cost and the weight of this engine was enough to push it well down the ratings, ranking toward the bottom of each category. With the rankings so close from third to fifth, even a small deficiency in any category made the difference between a high finish and a low finish.
Fourth Place - nialloftara
This was the largest, most complicated and most expensive engine in the entire field, being the only V6 in the field, and running a very small reduction gearbox. The Centauri Baloo produced enough power that I actually considered disqualifying it from the competition, but as the numbers started to come in it became clear that at least in this case, bigger does not always mean better. All the performance and complexity of this engine came at a huge cost, and was enough to bump this engine well down the rankings by itself, in addition to its very high noise prodduction and poor fuel burn relative to the other entrants.
Third Place - LaffingHyena
Where this engine struggled a little with reliability, cost and weight, it did reasonably well in terms of performance, especially in fuel burn and cruise performance, edging out the second-best range by just two nautical miles. Noise production was better than average, which also helped make up for a below-average unit cost. Interestingly, it was also the only inline-6 engine in this round of the competition, which would at least partially explain some of the strengths and weaknesses of this engine.
Second Place - ramthecowy
The Uruk was the most efficient engine of the entire group, and combined with the efficient propeller that was chosen was one of the best-performing powerplant combinations overall, with good speed, range and climb performance, albeit at a slight penalty to weight. Reliability was lower than average, and the relatively small reduction gearbox meant that the propller turned very quickly, which made the powerplant installation a little louder than it needed to be, but other than that this was a very good entry overall!
First Place - Dragawn
This engine won for a variety of reasons; it was light enough not to be a detriment, it was reliable enough not to be too far off from the average, but it combined this with the largest flat-rate of all the engines, which gave this powerplant combination the best overall performance at cruise, and enough range that it was in the average range. Additionally, the 2100 RPM propeller speed produced dramatically less noise than all of the other aircraft in the competition; the second-quietest entry was almost four times louder than this engine (as decibels are a logarithmic rather than an arithmetic value; this means that for every three decibels the amount of noise energy either doubles or falls by half).
So there we have it, the third round of the Automation Aero Challenge is in the books! I have a couple of very minor tweaks to the model I need to make (including some things I forgot about from the last time), and I need to get in touch with Dragawn to let him choose what he'd like to see for Round Four, which will be coming very soon...before the open beta drops, I hope!