4 August 2021
Russia’s Yak 18T went from being a basic trainer for the Soviet military in the 1960s to being a fun go-anywhere aerobatic five-seater for private pilots and the thunderous radial engine upfront has been a big part of its appeal. But now RED Aircraft of Germany has successfully tested the 18T fitted with its 500hp V12 turbodiesel.
The idea and execution was all RED Aircraft’s (RED stands for Raikhlin Engine Developments, founded by Vladimir Raikhlin). The 18T’s airframe is heavier than other aircraft of equal size, said RED Aircraft, so gives the ideal opportunity to demonstrate the higher powered engine.
RED’s Jurgen Schwarz said, “Compared to the traditional powerplant, the aircraft’s cruise speed increased significantly, while having more power reserves available.
“The aircraft is now equipped with modern instrumentation allowing for a precise control and monitoring of its engine systems. The Yak-18T-RED A03 is set for a brighter future with its powerful and more efficient power plant.”
RED cites several benefits. The Yak-18T is known for its ability to take off and land in very short distances so with 500hp at sea level that capability will be enhanced. The engine’s Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) should give accuracy and precision in the power they require during any manoeuvre, including aerobatics.
The Vee layout of the engine gives reduncdancy, says RED, with each bank of cylinders able to operate independently. The FADEC stores and monitors engine data, allowing early identification of potential problems which can help reduce the maintenance downtime.
RED claims the 18T’s climb rate is doubled, useful load increased by over 50%. Maximum speed is an astonishing 400km/h (216kt), up from the standard 18T’s 262km/h. And fuel burn is 20-40% lower.