Power Flow Systems, which has installed its patented tuned exhaust systems on an estimated 4,500 general aviation aircraft worldwide, is now working with type clubs and owners groups to develop tuned exhaust systems for additional aircraft.
According to company officials, it typically costs about $100,000 to develop and certify a new tuned exhaust system for a particular aircraft.
So far, the company has been granted STCs for Cessna’s 172 and 177 series, Piper’s PA 28-140, the Grumman AA5 series, and M20 B thru J model Mooney’s.
Most single engine airframes powered by Lycoming’s four cylinder O-320, O-360, I/O-360 or I/O-390 engines are candidates for the company’s upgrade, company officials noted.
In response to requests from owner’s groups and type clubs representing the pilots of aircraft that saw smaller production runs, the company offers an alternative for developing and certifying a tuned exhaust.
“The first article of any new design of our system typically costs $50,000 to develop, test and produce,” said Darren Tilman, Power Flow’s General Manager. “Add a similar amount for FAA mandated testing and production tooling and you can see that undertaking these projects based solely on the hope that ‘if we build it, they will come’ is financial folly.”
Power Flow’s “Pre-STC” program allows owners of different aircraft types to join forces to “prove the market.” Based on the size of the potential market, Power Flow sets a minimal earnest money deposit (typically $500) and a minimum number of required initial depositors (usually 40-50). The depositors get a fixed purchase price and guaranteed performance improvement benchmarks.
The program started with a campaign to develop a tuned exhaust for Cessna’s 177RG model. Power Flow initiated the project in 2008 after 40 RG pilots — members of the Cardinal Flyers Online Pilot’s Group — signed up, each making a $500 deposit. Obtaining the STC in early 2009, Power Flow delivered new systems to each of the initial depositors. It has since delivered more than 125 additional systems to RG owners worldwide.
A similar action was undertaken in 2010 for the Aviat Husky; this time based on deposits from 35 pilots. The company has now sold more than 35 additional systems to Husky owners seeking higher performance for their aircraft.
Neither one of these airframes would have “made the cut” for Power Flow to consider a new development effort based on the number of airframes in service, company officials noted. It was only with the participation of owners that the company was able to justify these projects, officials concluded.