Aviation Electronic Engine Management
Lycoming Engines specialize in engineering, manufacturing, service and support of piston aircraft engines. Headquartered in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Lycoming engines power more than half of the world’s fixed wing piston general aviation fleet and 100 percent of the piston rotary-wing fleet.
Lycoming wanted to enable a broader range of aviation fuel options and maintain its market leadership by adding cost-effective electronic controls to their piston aircraft engines.
In 2005 electronic control in the general aviation engine market was not considered mainstream and Lycoming desired to partner with a world class controls company. They understood the significant advances electronic controls had brought to the automotive market and realized that it would give them a considerable competitive advantage if they could deliver similar advances to their aviation customers.
Lycoming engaged with Pi Innovo to work alongside their own engineers to develop a proof of concept General Aviation engine controller using the OpenECU rapid controls prototyping platform.
The combination of Lycoming engine expertise and Pi Innovo electronic engine control expertise led to a detailed initial specification for an aviation engine control system. Based on extensive experience with automotive engine controllers, Pi Innovo was then able to adapt proven automotive technology to Lycoming’s application including the necessary functionality to comply with aviation safety and flight control requirements.
OpenECU G800 rapid controls prototyping hardware and model based software were used to develop a functional proof of concept. Our standard, off-the-shelf OpenECU hardware was sufficiently robust to be used directly on an aircraft prototype that logged over 100 hours of successful flight time.
Once effective and stable model based engine control strategies were established on the proof of concept controller, Pi Innovo took the lead in developing a complete specification for a production engine controller and engine control and diagnostics software.
Results and Impact
Lycoming continues to maintain leadership in the piston aircraft engine market. The on-going collaboration, now exceeding 7 years, has produced a modular ECU that can be applied across the entire Lycoming product line, with the flexibility to control a wide variety of engine types and configurations.
The flexible and collaborative engagement style of Pi Innovo enabled Lycoming to extend their in-house expertise on electronic control in parallel with delivering their first electronic aviation engine controller to market, on time and to budget.
Pi Innovo continues to provide highly skilled engineering services in:
Safety critical system proof of concept developments
Rapid controls prototyping
Model-based control development
Electronic engine control for General Aviation applications