The news posted last week by Flying came as a shock — Pipistrel announced delays in the production of its sleek new Panthera four-seater due to Lycoming’s decision not to certify its IO-390 for mogas as originally planned.
Already known for its award-winning, mogas-burning Sinus and Virus motor-gliders and LSA aircraft, the Solvenian-based Pipistrel, like its rival, Italy’s Tecnam, has long pursued a multi-fuel strategy, including mogas, due to the high cost of avgas and its disappearance in many parts of the world.
Fortunately for Pipistrel, there exist a number of alternatives to the IO-390 that will give them the power they need while benefiting from the lower cost and widespread availability of mogas, especially at airports in Europe.
Petersen Aviation, the experts in certifying engines and aircraft for mogas, support STCs for three alternatives to the IO-390. Here is a comparison:
Lycoming IO-390 – four cylinders, fuel-injected, 210 hp, dry weight 308 lbs, original Panthera engine, mogas and avgas
Lycoming IO-540V – six cylinders, fuel-injected, 260 hp, dry weight 420 lbs, new Panthera engine, avgas-only
Comparable engines with Mogas STCs from Petersen Aviation:
Lycoming O-540 – six cylinders, naturally-aspirated, 250 hp, dry weight 405 lbs
Continental IO-470 – six cylinders, fuel-injected, 260 hp, dry weight 411 lbs (requires INPULSE*)
Continental IO-520 – six cylinders, fuel-injected, 300 hp, dry weight 411 lbs (requires INPULSE*)
* The Continental I0-470 and I0-520 engines require the INPULSE water/methanol anti-detonation injection system, certified and in use on a number of aircraft types.
It should also be possible to have Petersen Aviation test the Lycoming IO-390 on the Panthera for its ability to operate on mogas, and apply for an STC as the company has for hundreds of other engine/airframe combinations.