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Blog – Pilots, Ready to Save Some Fuel Costs?

Written By: Mike Ingram, President & CEO

Seems like everyone is talking about the price of gas, inflation, and possible recessions. The politicians have been known to say, ‘never let a crisis go to waste.’  So how does a business that supplies fuel and engine products take advantage of this situation?

I’ve been working on a few ideas in the area of improving fuel efficiency for aircraft, mostly in the small piston engines. Piston engines have not changed much since their invention in the middle of the last century but more recently there has been some progress on fuel injectors, better spark timing, and monitoring. This has enabled GA, piston-engine pilots to be able to better ‘lean’ their fuel to air mixture ratio in order to get the most performance and/or best economical setting for their engine.  Cirrus aircraft have a function called, “Lean Assist” that a pilot can use when in cruise.

Many other aspects of the airplane have been designed for flight efficiency (wings, fuselage, gear) and the automotive market has spent millions in designing systems that improve the engine operation. So, that’s where I’m looking by tapping into Shadin’s team, past and present, to search for that knowledge for a product that will reduce a pilot’s cost in fuel. 

There are multiple methods to take an idea to product, and the big companies have integrated these into their engineering teams. These processes are considered ‘Design Sprints’ and have fancy names like FastWorks (GE). LinkedIn posted a good article on what they are, Companies like IDEO can assist with this brainstorming process but companies on a limited budget need to facilitate the process themselves.

I’m excited to be launching this process and have already begun testing a couple of my product ideas. I have some contractors doing some prototypes, my BD team is working the Real-Win-Worth methodology, and we plan on doing a series of Go/No-go decisions on these product ideas later this quarter. The goal set for the team is to have a new product to market by early 2023. 

In 6 months, I’m guessing that gas prices will still be painful and pilots, flight schools, and charter companies will be looking for ways to save a few bucks at the pump. Keep an eye out for new product introductions from your friendly fuel flow company, Shadin Avionics!