July 26, 2013
By Dave Hirschman
The first airplane powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) is being unveiled at EAA AirVenture after flying more than 1,000 miles from Afton, Wyo.
The Aviat Husky with a 200-horsepower Lycoming engine is the first aircraft that can run on avgas or CNG, and the change can be made with the flick of a switch in the cockpit.
“This is a remarkable proof-of-concept airplane,” said Stu Horn, president of Aviat Aircraft. “The performance and ease of operations have exceeded our expectations.”
The Husky A-1C is fitted with a CNG tank in addition to standard wing tanks that carry up to 50 gallons of avgas.
Greg Herrick, president of the Aviation Foundation of America, approached Horn with the idea of a CNG-powered Husky in early 2013.
“Among the many advantages of using CNG are fuel cost savings, cleaner burning fuel, and no lead emissions,” Herrick said. “I’m impressed with how Aviat readily agreed to tackle this project, working with a team of engineers and craftsmen within the aviation and natural gas industries. The result is a sophisticated solution which can be readily applied to a variety of piston-powered aircraft.”
CNG is about 80 percent less expensive than avgas, contains no lead, and reduces smog by 90 percent and carbon dioxide by 30 percent. Engine oil remains cleaner longer, improving engine longevity.
The CNG-powered Husky will be on display at the Innovations Pavilion during EAA AirVenture.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.
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