Get the best ultralight engine
in a junk yard near you
Light automobile engines like this Suzuki G13BB 1.3L could well be the best ultralight engines available on the market today. Not only are they less expensive than their Rotax counterpart, but they're easier to maintain, more reliable, and their gas consumption is lower.
No wonder the interest in converted auto engines is growing across the world. Everybody knows that two-stroke engines like Rotax 503 and 582 are not certified aircraft engines, but variations based on ski-doo engines, with all the inconveniences they may cause. On the other hand, four-stroke, certified aircraft engines like the Rotax 912 have a prohibitive price tag for most people.
Development of general aviation piston engines slowed down fifty years ago with the introduction of jet engines. During the same period, auto engines were constantly improved. Modern car engines are light, reliable and their "life expectancy" is longer than ever. With electronic injection, computerized systems, low maintenance costs and attractive prices, converted car engines have numerous advantages.
Much have been written about the conversion of Nissan, Honda, or Subaru engines to be used in ultralight airplanes, but for Vassil Tarakanov (who once worked for such renowned aircraft manufacturers as Sukhoi), the Suzuki G10 and G13, used in cars such as the Geo Metro and Suzuki Swift, may be among the very best engines for small amateur built ultralight airplanes.
Take the G10 for instance. It develops around 65 hp, which is similar to the Rotax 582. TBO (recommended rebuild time) is 1000 hours, as opposed to 300 hours for the 582. Besides, with its starter, alternator and light battery, it can easily be started, no matter the weather or outside temperature. Also making it one of the best solutions for an ultralight engine is the fact that the sensors coupled to an electronic module will automaticaly adjust the air and gas mixture to altitude, humidity, temperature and gas quality. Plus, just like in a car, the computer can generate diagnosis warning you of eventuals problems.
If you're looking for an ultralight engine with more power (similar to the Rotax 912), then you could opt for the G13 (1.3L) or the G10 Turbo, the latter developing up to 92 hp, while a converted G13 GTi Twin Cam would give you more than 110 hp... for less than $7000, with redundancy of all important lines.
What makes these engines light in the first place is their aluminium alloy used for the block.
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Just because they supply the world with 70% of ultralight aircraft engines does not mean Rotax has the best product; they simply have more money to spend on marketing and distribution (Bombardier is a BIG company). At one time, there were many times more GM or Ford cars in America than Honda; yet, the Japanese proved more reliable, for their quality was higher.