Beijing institute turns to powering rotorcraft

2023-09-18 10:49:25China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

A 75-kilowatt heavy-oil piston engine developed by the Beijing Power Machinery Institute is tested on a rotorcraft. (Photo/China Daily)

The Beijing Power Machinery Institute, a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, is known for its engine products that propel the nation's cruise missiles. And now, engineers at the institute have used their expertise to build propulsion systems for rotorcraft and drones.

"We have developed multiple types of piston engines that can be used on small fixed-wing drones, medium-altitude unmanned rotorcraft and general aviation aircraft such as civilian utility helicopters," Wang Yanwen, marketing director at the institute, part of the CASIC Third Academy, said in Tianjin on Friday.

"Our designers and engineers are good at making high-performance engines for cruise missiles, so they have abundant knowledge and the skills needed for the research and development of piston engines used on small helicopters and unmanned planes. All of our piston engines are characterized by full, independent intellectual property rights, long-tested technologies, world-class capabilities and good reliability," said Wang, who is also project manager for piston engines at the institute.

Models of several piston engines made by the institute were on display at the 6th China Helicopter Exposition that closed in Tianjin on Sunday.

Zhao Lewen, an engineer taking part in the piston engines program, introduced two major types.

"The 100-kilowatt aviation piston engine features advanced equipment independently designed by our engineers, such as an electronic fuel injection control system and a high-pressure-ratio turbocharger device. It has good operational economy, low fuel consumption and a high flight ceiling. It can propel various types of high-altitude drones and general aviation aircraft," said the engineer.

Another type, a 75-kilowatt heavy-oil piston engine, has an intelligent, high-precision electronic control system and high-efficiency heavy fuel cold-start device and other modern technologies, he said, adding it is suitable for medium- and high-altitude fixed-wing drones and unmanned rotorcraft.

Currently, almost all piston engines of these types that are used in China are foreign products, according to Wang. His team is striving to put an end to the dependence on imports.

"The two piston engine models have been mounted on drones for technology demonstration and performance tests. Upon the completion of the test flights, they will be ready for delivery. Many domestic aircraft makers have told us that they are in urgent need of such domestically developed engines," Wang said.

It was the first time that the Beijing institute has taken part in the biannual helicopter expo, the only event dedicated to the helicopter and rotorcraft industries in China.

This year's expo was co-hosted by the Tianjin government, the People's Liberation Army Ground Force as well as Aviation Industry Corp of China. It was the first helicopter expo in China in four years.

The four-day event had more than 350 participating enterprises from around the world and at least 60,000 visitors, according to the organizing committee.


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