Australia Developing the World's First Biofuel Capable Helicopter

Delta D2 diesel helicopter photo

Both photos: Delta Helicopters

Earlier this year, our transport editor, Mike, pondered the concept of diesel helicopters. Well, they may be closer than he thought. Delta Helicopters of Queensland, Australia, are already prepping their Delta D2 prototype to be the world's first diesel helicopter.

It is expected that the Delta D2 will be made available in self-assemble kit form, designed for use by farmers on Australia's remote farms, who already have diesel on hand for their trucks, tractors and farm machinery. The engine is coming from the US firm DeltaHawk. They've been working on diesel aviation engine that they claim burns 40% less fuel standard gasoline aviation engines and 75% less than turbine aviation engines. Plus they reckon they can get 30-40% more range per gallon. What's more, a DeltaHawk diesel aviation engine is said to be capable of using biofuels.

delta diesel helicopter photo

It is hoped that "kit sales will assist the funding of the one and a half million dollars required to meet the manual and paper work required to achieve normal category certification."

The two-seater Delta D2 helicopter was designed by aeronautical engineer Bill Whitney, who has great hopes for the aircraft, "The Delta can generate more torque, which is what helicopters need to keep aloft. They're less volatile and the fuel is greener than petrol, so the same quantity takes you further.

It isn't just the four-cylinder, two-stroke, water-cooled, turbocharged diesel engine which will be unique to the Delta D2 helicopter. Though by virtue of that engine by virtue of that engine it will have no spark plugs, no magnetos, no high tension leads, no valves and no head gaskets. It will also have custom made carbon-fibre rotors, semi-transparent fuel tanks, a massive cargo box under the rotor and transparent inspection hatches over critical couplings.

It is expected that a kit will be worth about $180,000 AUD, or $200,000 AUD fully assembled.

Visit the company's website at Delta Helicopters, where you can download further articles about the six years of development that have gone into the design.

See also ABC Online, Westside News and HelicopterWise for additional info.

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