Van's Aircraft Total Performance RV Kit Planes

Powerplant Choices

RV aircraft are designed to use Lycoming aircraft engines.

The RV-4 and RV-6/6A use 150/160 hp 0-320 or 180 hp 0-360 engines.
The RV-7/7A and RV-8/8A can accommodate O-320, O-360 or angle valve
IO-360 (200 hp) engines. The RV-9/9A is suitable for Lycoming engines in the 118 hp to 160 hp range. The engine used in the 4-place RV-10 is the Lycoming IO-540D4A5 rated at 260 hp. Van's recommendation for the 4 place includes any of the parallel valve 540's which are available from 235hp on up to the 260hp version. These engines are the most readily available, affordable, and reliable of the possible choices. Other aircraft engines of similar configuration, weight and power might possibly be used, but only the Lycoming will fit the mounts and cowls supplied with our kits.

Van’s volume allows us to buy appropriate models of new engines at O.E.M. (Original Equipment Manufacturer) prices direct from Lycoming. We market these engines to our customers at far less than list price. This makes them an affordable alternative, even when compared to the traditional used engine. Van's has similar arrangements with Hartzell Propeller, Sensenich Propeller and other manufacturers.
Other Engines

We are often asked about using non-aircraft engine conversions. We’d like to pass along a quote from a colleague in the homebuilt airplane business:

"The best conversion I know is to take $8000 and convert it into a good used Lycoming." This may sound a bit narrow-minded, but it reflects the basic truth: no non-aircraft engine has yet proven to be as reliable, available, and inexpensive (everything considered) as a traditional aircraft engine.

It seems that magazines are always printing stories about automobile engines bought for junkyard prices, mated to inexpensive reduction drives and flown off into the sunset. It simply doesn’t work like that in the real world. The reliability we have come to expect from aircraft engines is the result of years of development and refinement of engines designed specifically for the task. Automobile engines function well in their intended application: delivering low cruising power in vehicles with well designed transmissions and power trains. Using them successfully in an airplane requires continuous high power outputs and reduction systems coupled to the propeller. This is completely foreign to their design intent. (You can imagine the car engine designer banging his head slowly against his desk..."no, no, no. If I’d known you wanted to do that with it, I would have designed something different....)

With enough research and development effort, auto engines may be made to work acceptably or even well in an airplane. We are not opposed, in principle, to RV builders using alternate engines, but we would hope that this choice is made on facts, not hopes or dreams. Do you want to spend your time and effort on engine development or do you want to fly confidently behind an engine that has already been developed?

We, too, would like to see "something better" in available powerplants. We are carefully watching some alternatives. Meanwhile, the proven Lycomings do the job very well and are the best "available now" option. Despite the many claims and promises made by promoters, we feel that if you will look closely at what is actually available, how many are really flying, and how well they really perform, you will agree with our conclusions.

While we are not opposed to RV builders installing alternate engines, we simply cannot recommend or encourage the installation of any other engine - we don’t feel it would best serve the interest or safety of the builder.

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