Q: I am about to change my Alfa Romeo boxer engine to a Lycoming O-360A1F1 on my experimental Glastar aircraft. I read your answer recently to a question if LASAR is really useful (Will my engine benefit from new technology? Jan. 12 issue). Its actual price is $2,500. Do you think that it is really worth this high sum?
My mechanic has doubts, saying he is not confident in electronics — that if the electronics don’t work, the engine will stop. He also says that standard magnetos usually always work.
G. FRANK, Italy
A: I appreciate the fact that you read my article on the LASAR system. One thing I overlooked when explaining the system is that any interruption of the three data sensors — manifold pressure, cylinder head temperature, or rpm — and the system automatically reverts to the fixed timing on the engine just like the LASAR system was not there. Therefore, the engine would not stop as a result of the LASAR system experiencing an electronic failure.
I wish I could answer your other question regarding whether the LASAR system is worth the investment. There is no doubt it has some advantages over standard magnetos, such as a much hotter starting spark and the ability to adjust the timing for optimum engine performance at cruise power. However, are these requirements something you really need for the type of flying you normally do? If you usually operate in colder climates where starting may require a hotter starting spark or you do a lot of long distance cross country flying, then the investment may be justifiable. It’s a very difficult question that has to be decided by your own personal choice.
Also, how familiar is your maintenance technician or facility regarding the LASAR system? If it’s a system they have little or no experience with, then this may cause them some concern until they acquire the proper training and any special equipment that may be required to properly service the system.
Paul McBride, an expert on engines, retired after almost 40 years with Lycoming. Send your questions to: AskPaul@GeneralAviationNews.com.