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Sun, Apr 02, 2023

Viking Engineering Sees Increasing Interests as Aeronautical Costs Rise

Reliability, Affordability, and Commonality Key Draws for Automotive Engine Conversions

Viking Engineering Showed Up Ready for Sun 'n Fun, with their full lineup of experimental aircraft engines ready to capitalize on a market where traditional aircraft engines are getting pricier than ever.

The outfit provides high-quality, robust, lightweight engines from well-known automotive manufacturers for use in experimental aircraft, bringing out cutting edge technology in a field that's been using the 'same ol', same old' stuff since the postwar era. Direct injection, turbocharging, and omnivorous fuel diets are the norm in the automotive world.

A common convo topic at Sun 'n Fun is just how costly everything is getting, from gas and oil to parts and shipping. While certified aircraft are locked into a world of constant price increases and aero-specific equipment, Viking co-owner Alissa Eggenfellner says her customers are nearly immune to them.

“We've had no real issues with rising costs, nothing. Because of the mass production of the auto industry, we have everything readily available and not in small batch parts. You're saving on oil filters, the belts, everything you may need you can get at your local auto parts store. You aren't stuck with the extra shipping costs of ordering parts from Germany, or Austria. Our engine, like our 130, our most popular one, is $2,000, whereas the other guys are $30,000, $40,000."

It's not just the widespread availability of cheap auto parts, either. For pilots looking to maximize uptime on their experiment, it's hard to beat a Honda, no matter where you are in the world.

“A lot of the guys who are flying in remote areas, down in southern Mexico, flying over mountainous areas - if they have an issue, what're they gonna do? It's really important to be able to maintain it wherever it's flying. when you've had a prop strike you know you've safeguarded your entire engine.You can send the gearbox off and have it back in 24 hours. You won't be stranded wherever you are, the plane gets right back up and running - no teardown and inspection of the whole engine like you'd see on an aircraft engine. Insurance people like it, because we have a very large fleet, and the costs are low.”

Eggenfellner said that despite the automotive origins, and wide degree of aftermarket support available, Viking prefers to leave them as they come from the factory.

“People will ask why we don't add a certain piston or forged internals. For overhaul purposes alone, we want it to remain stock, we don't wanna mess with it, we don't wanna overhaul it or change the engine from what it is. We don't want some kind of custom engine with boutique parts. Not too many people are doing that because they know it's tested, and it is reliable. We have a 2,000 hour TBO."



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