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GAMI: Propelling aircraft engines into the future


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GAMI: Propelling aircraft engines into the future


By James Wynbrandt


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The latest GAMISPEC TNIO-550 engine with PRISM electronic ignition. Photo by Dave Higdon</TD></TR></T></TABLE>


General aviation is being transformed by innovations like composite materials, glass-panel cockpits, and real-time weather displays. But one important part of general aviation seems stuck in the last century: the engines that power most of our aircraft. For several years, General Aviation Modifications Inc. (GAMI), of Ada, Oklahoma, has been producing aftermarket products to change that situation. Its GAMI fuel injectors, for example, enable piston-powered aircraft engines to operate much more efficiently. Here at EAA AirVenture, visitors can learn about the technology GAMI is currently developing that could help propel aviation powerplants into the future.


The PRISM (pressure reactive intelligent spark management) electronic ignition system is one such innovation. It uses fiber optic pressure sensors in each cylinder to optimize spark timing and achieve maximum brake torque.


"We can make both significantly more power, and also deal with knock characteristics so effectively that we can run it on lower octane fuel and still have no unacceptable knock characteristics," said GAMI President Tim Roehl at the company’s booth (North Hangar C, 3005-3006). "The pilot’s going to get on the order of 8 to 10 percent more horsepower at the same fuel flow, or the same percentage reduction in fuel flow at the same horsepower, or any combination in between."


As part of the installation the magnetos are removed.


"Because it’s electronic as opposed to mechanical, there are much fewer moving parts," Roehl said.


The fiber-optic pressure sensors connect to the cylinders through specially made Champion spark plugs. Roehl says the PRISM system will cost about $5,000, and estimates certification is about 18 months away.


"We’re currently hard at work refining the durability and lowering the cost of the fiber optic pressure sensors," Roehl said.


GAMI is also developing a supplemental alternator it’s dubbed the Supplenator to provide a backup power supply in the event of an in-flight electrical failure. Unlike other backup systems, no battery voltage is required to bring the system on line. The Supplenator "should be available later this year," said Roehl. Also displaying its wares in the GAMI booth is sister company Tornado Alley Turbo, which has developed turbonormalized engine conversions. While currently only available in the aftermarket for Bonanzas (about $45,000 installed), this week at AirVenture Cirrus announced plans to offer factory-installed turbonormalized conversions on new SR22 aircraft.


"We have tackled electronic components, engine modifications like GAMI injectors, and structural modifications," said Roehl, summing up his company’s skunk works-like products. "Our company is unique."</BLOCKQUOTE>



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