Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Porsche PFM

As a keen aviator, I followed closely the developments of Porsche working again in aviation. 
Porsche had a solid background in many diverse engineering projects and in the past and the original Porsche Design Bureau had worked on a number of aero engines. 
Since taking over the helm at Porsche AG, Peter Schultz, the then CEO, had wanted to diversify into other non-automotive areas and he saw an opening for Porsche to develop a light aircraft engine based around the 911 engine. Being American he could see that there was a large market for a well designed and engineered aero engine to fit into Cessna, Piper and other US and European produced light aircraft. 
The resulting engine was called Porsche PFM-3200 which was basically the engine of a 911 flat 6 unit, but it had a transfer case added and dual ignition, alternators and a number of other redundant dual systems required by aviation law. Other areas modifications included a modified oil system so that the oil scavenge pump could not run out of oil even if the engine was operating upside down which it needed to do if it was to be fitted to aerobatic planes. I first saw a picture of the engine fitted to a Cessna 172 aircraft and this developed as a flying test bed over a year or so. 
There was also talk within Porsche of developing the 930-turbo engines as a high performance version. 
A number of Porsche aero engines were later fitted to Airship Industries Airships, which were powered by two Porsche engines that could be rotated around their axis to provide vectored thrust for take-off and landings. A major problem with traditional airships were their requirement for a large ground crew to assist them in landing and taking off, but the vectored thrust design of Roger Monk, who was based at Cardington in Bedfordshire, had offered a modern alternative. 
Porsche eventually produced 41 of the PFM-3200 engines between 1987 through 1991, which delivered 217bhp. 

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