Continental announced at AOPA Summit that it was launching a new engine, which is similar in design to its long-popular IO-360 six-cylinder 200-hp model that powers the Cirrus SR20, among other models. The engine, the IO-360-AF, will include lower-compression pistons and a lower red line (2,550 rpm compared to 2,700 rpm in many installations) to effectively derate it to 180 horsepower.
The launch customer for it is the Flight Design C4, which itself was launched at Germany’s Friedrichshafen airshow last spring. The all-carbon-fiber C4, claims Flight Design, will boast industry leading useful load and economy numbers, allowing it to fly with full fuel and four FAA-regulation-issue adults at 160 knots for roughly 1,200 nm. At EAA AirVenture, where Flight Design showed off a mockup of the C4, the company told Flying that was in the process of specifying a “new” piston engine in the 180 hp range that would be able to run on no-lead aviation fuel or even auto fuel. The IO-360-AF is apparently that engine.
Continental announced no timetable for its certification, but it will have to hustle if its new partner, Flight Design, is to make good on its plans to certify the C4 by late next year or early in 2013.