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The Turbo-the game changer

Produced by kind permission from Mark Peterson

Turbocharged Talon RI A600 Engine
It has been developed, engineered, tested and is now available from RotorWay Helicopter Manufacturing in Chandler, AZ. It is the turbo charger option for the Talon A600 engine. Note at this time the Exec 162F engine version is under development, this may or may not be available later

Of course we all know a turbo charger system is not a new invention. Boosting intake manifold pressure from the existing exhaust air pressure has been around a long time and is used on gasoline and diesel engines. In addition, there have been owners of RotorWay helicopters who have turbo charged their engines years ago and some more recently. But the turbo charger/engine upgrade from RotorWay is going to change everything and increase the performance and safety of this helicopter.

I have been flying the RotorWay product for the last 20 years and I am now approaching 7000 hours in type. I truly believe this will be a game changer for the helicopter and the company. The experienced engine staff at RotorWay has developed a custom well designed and compact unit that retrofits in a very straight forward manner.

The turbo/engine upgrade will produce 30% more power with lower operating temps for the coolant and oil. The dramatic increase in torque from a slight throttle twist is what is most notable. At gross weight of 1500 pounds, no longer will the RPM droop while hovering on a hot day. With the turbo, the pilot will be hovering at 40% throttle, twist the throttle slightly to 45% and you will feel the engine torque increase and the helicopter will begin a maximum performance climb. This is now a powerplant properly matched for this airframe.

An Added Bonus I did not consider
While in Lake City, FL last month I did a x-country to Jacksonville, FL about 63 miles NE to provide flight training to a RotorWay owner. I flew solo over to Herlong airport at 800 feet AGL at 90 mph IAS and got there in 40 minutes on a light wind day. That is pretty sweet for the RotorWay helicopter. OAT 85 F, coolant was at 171 F, oil 165 F, MP 26, averaged 90 mph IAS, GS 83 mph. On a hot day here in South Alabama without the turbo, we normally fly the helicopter at 70 to 75 mph IAS with a MP of 22 to 23 inches. The temps would stay in the high green, increasing the MP to increase the IAS would push the temps into the yellow.

This upgrade comes at a good time as it is the last piece of the puzzle that fits in place. In my opinion, a well built and maintained RotorWay experimental helicopter (162F and Talon) can give years of reliable sport flying service. The rotor system along with the MR blades have been very reliable. The newer drive system (35mm secondary and cog tensioner system) are now proving themselves to be reliable. The TR drive belt system with proper tension and maintenance, is certainly very dependable. The engine is reliable but I will admit we have had longevity problems, most notably the waterjacket sleeve cracks. The new waterjacket kit has addressed those issues. And now with the turbo and engine upgrade, I believe we will get even more longevity from the RotorWay engine. And more so if RotorWay is successful with slowing the engine speed to 3900 rpm to be the new 100% instead of the current 100% at 4250 rpm. This is in development and testing now and will involve a main drive pulley change and different length of main drive belts.

I get asked all the time about the engine power of the RotorWay and its reliability. My answer is the powerplant of the 162F and the Talon both have adequate power and the engine is reliable. I can hear the cries now about engine reliability. But ask yourself, when was the last time you heard of a RotorWay having an engine failure? It is infrequent that an engine failure makes the RotorWay come down for an unscheduled landing. I am not saying it has not happened, but it is infrequent.

Turbo and the 162F
As mentioned earlier the company is working toward a solution to make the Turbo upgrade available for the 162F fleet. The issue is getting the 162F ECUs to work with the Turbo. RotorWay has all the original programming hardware and software and Wade Ramsey is on it. Hopefully soon he will have a solution.

Cost and Options
The Turbo Upgrade Kit is priced at $6000.00. It includes all the turbo parts, piping for the intake, rods, pistons, rings, and an oil cooler & oil pump.

However, the best option will be to return your engine to RotorWay and have Rob Golden overhaul your engine and add the upgrades and improvements he has been doing to the production Talon engines. This would include an overhaul of the cylinder heads, intake valves, exhaust valves and seats. The engine case oil channel improvement, line bore for the crankshaft, better oil clearance for the bearings that will improve the cooling. It should be noted that RotorWay will not be able to overhaul your engine unless you have the new style waterjackets. The cost of the RotorWay factory overhaul with new waterjackets, cylinder head overhaul and the work on the engine case will be just under $10,000.00. So the combined cost with the Turbo Upgrade and the engine overhaul will be about $15K. Pretty reasonable for aircraft engines.

Pros and Cons
No doubt the extra power and performance is outstanding. But the turbo does indeed add weight. All components combined it comes to 38 pounds. In addition, the fuel burn has increased to 9 gallons an hour.

The Big Question?
How long will the turbo engine last. No one can answer that at this time. As time is accumulated on the engines, we will be able to better answer that question. My take is this, adding the turbo with an overhaul by Rob Golden with the new waterjackets and with the other upgrades and improvements, I believe we could expect to see better than 500 hours without any issues other than change the oil and filter and do a valve lash inspection. Some may say 500 hours is not much. But consider this, most RotorWay owners fly 30 to 50 hours a year. At that rate 500 hours will be 10 plus years.

Abuse of Power
The additional power is great and the applying power to exercise maximum performance departure is impressive, but it is not necessary or recommended to make a max performance departure every time you do a take-off. The pilot should still minimize the power required for the departure and or approach that is required. Remember hover power is climb power. Doing so will add to the life of the turbo and your engine. However it is good to know now that when it is a hot and the aircraft is heavy, I will have confidence knowing I will have the power to safely make that tight and confined approach if I find it necessary.

So in summary, I believe this is going change everything for RotorWay the company and the 162F and the Talon. I believe that the engine in my helicopter now is the most reliable powerplant you can have in your RotorWay. My RotorWay has been a good little helicopter over the last several years and now with the Turbo, it is a great little helicopter. I never get tired of flying the helicopter. Today I took a prospective RotorWay owner to LA (Lower Alabama)BBQ. Using the helicopter to go get lunch, it doesn’t get any better than that.