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Fuel injection improves performance of unmanned aerial system engines

Insitu Inc : 25 January, 2010  (New Product)
Insitu’s heavy fuel engine now has the ability to be fitted with electronic fuel injection to provide field upgrades enabling performance improvements in existing UAS fleets
Insitu has successfully flight-tested electronic fuel injection (EFI) on its heavy fuel engine (HFE). This achievement is a key risk-reduction milestone for the company’s small tactical unmanned aircraft system (STUAS)/Tier II offer, the Integrator unmanned aircraft system (UAS). The EFI HFE technology will be incorporated into Insitu’s entire family of UAS.

Introduction of EFI into the HFE is a technological leap in small engine UAS performance, providing overall improvements—especially in extreme temperatures and at high altitudes, including mountainous terrain. In addition to providing accurate fuel metering under varying atmospheric and engine conditions, important engine data and system status are provided by the EFI controller to the ground station. This allows for improved engine performance monitoring and more effective control of the aircraft to achieve mission success.

“Electronic fuelling enhances the overall performance and reliability of our unmanned systems,” said Insitu Chief Technology Officer Charlie Guthrie. “We have been researching and evaluating electronic fuel systems for a couple of years, and we now have the key components in place to support this development. This technology will be incorporated into our entire family of unmanned systems.”

The HFE EFI conversion is a field-level upgrade and will be available for existing ScanEagle UAS early in the summer of 2010. This technology is also being incorporated into the development of the Integrator UAS for the STUAS/Tier II program and Insitu’s commercial release of Integrator.

Heavy fuel, a kerosene-based fuel commonly used in jet aircraft engines, is used as a safer alternative to gasoline and is more readily available and cost-effective in theatre on both land and sea. Insitu’s HFE aircraft recently logged more than 3,800 operational flight hours meeting the system safety and logistics requirements aboard maritime vessels, while increasing system endurance. The HFE technology was a critical requirement of the US Navy when deciding to place Insitu UAS on DDG-class ships.
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