NATEP Project Update: 40S Engine Testing Commences

September 12, 2016
NATEP Project Update: 40S Engine Testing Commences

In May 2016 AIE (UK) Ltd were excited to be in the final assembly stages of their newly designed, modern rotary engine with support from the National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP).

The project aim was to design a completely new, modern rotary engine that would be extremely lightweight and suitable for maritime surveillance UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles).

It is essential that UAVs deployed in maritime surveillance are extremely reliable as they have long flight times and sensitive payloads.  The challenge for AIE then, is to use their experience in modern rotary engine innovation to design and manufacture an engine not only with exceptional reliability but that was also extremely powerful and lightweight.

All Engines Go

Since May, the project has moved into its final testing phase.  Expectations were high as the patented technology of AIE’s Compact SPARCS liquid-cooled modern rotary engine was anticipated to be the perfect solution to meet the specific needs of maritime UAVs.

The 40S engine prototype did not fail to meet those expectations in testing.  The engine started up first time and powered up as predicted.  In fact, the engine was so strong that it was able to be put, immediately, into a 50 hour WOT (wide open throttle) accelerated life test.  This test, with the engine at maximum throttle for the duration, subjects the engine to conditions far beyond normal circumstances.

AIE were proud to report that their new 40S modern rotary engine passed the accelerated life test with flying colours. 

It has now been proven that this modern rotary engine can deliver the power that is needed, along with lower fuel consumption, for perfect integration into a maritime UAV. The reduced mass and increased endurance will enable the UAV to climb higher and fly for longer than is often possible.

Showcase for New Technology

Anyone in attendance at the Farnborough International Airshow held on 11-17 July 2016 would have been able to see the project for themselves.  The airshow brings together 1500 exhibitors from around the world to deliver the most diverse exhibition of the aerospace industry.  As part of the Midlands Aerospace Alliance exhibition in the Innovation Zone, NATEP showcased the AIE (UK) Ltd, ‘SPARCS Rotary Engine for UAVs’, project as a perfect example of how developing technologies are being used in the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) sector.

It is with anticipation that the next stage of the project gets underway.  The proposal is to continue in collaboration with Vortex Exhaust Technology to integrate a starter, generator and exhaust in addition to developing engine ancillaries.

For more information about AIE (UK) Ltd modern rotary engine technology visit  You can also follow the latest developments of this project on Twitter.



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