Lycoming Engines

By Staff Writer | January 1, 2005
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Market Leader Pushing the Design Envelope

On April 3, 1929, a Beech-designed TravelAir biplane was the first aircraft to feature a Lycoming motor (the nine-cylinder, 215-horsepower R-680 radial engine) on successful trial flights. It was christened "The Lycoming." The nation's earliest airlines were powered by these engines, 25,000 of which were produced over the course of almost 20 years. Elsewhere, thousands of R-680s flew with the armed services before and during World War II in trainer, liaison, ambulance and artillery-spotting planes.

Over the years, Lycoming has earned its reputation for market leadership by pushing the design envelope. Following the success of the R-680, the company made aviation history again with the world's largest and most powerful reciprocating aircraft engine. The XR-7755 was a 36-cylinder, single-crankshaft, liquid-cooled, radial-type powerplant designed to generate 5,000 horsepower. Developed for the U.S. military, the experimental engine never flew due to the advent of jet propulsion and is now displayed at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center as a testament to Lycoming's innovative heritage.


In 1938, Lycoming introduced the GO-145, which became one of the first modern, high-production light aircraft engines. The world's first successful helicopter, built and flown by Igor Sikorsky on September 14, 1939, was powered by a four-cylinder 75-horsepower Lycoming GO-145. This first horizontally-opposed engine would form the genesis of generations of Lycoming powerplants for numerous general aviation manufacturers.

Since 1974, Lycoming has provided the only FAA-certified aerobatic engines, serving not only performance pilots, but also the flight school training needs of many airline pilots. Lycoming's sponsorship of performance aerobatic teams and air race teams will continue to test new concepts and support the development of innovative designs for the next century of flight.

In September 2004, Lycoming announced the implementation of proprietary roller tappet technology across its certified aircraft engines and is nearing FAA certification. The company's integration of roller tappets is the first planned improvement in a phased program of design enhancements to bring proven racing technology with additional patented innovations that provide greater value to the customer with enhanced reliability and performance.

As the company celebrates its 75th anniversary (1929-2004), Lycoming is now an operating division of Textron's Avco Corp. subsidiary and employs more than 500 people at its Williamsport, Pennsylvania facility. Lycoming's 325,000 piston engines have powered more than half of the world's general aviation fleet, including civilian and law enforcement helicopter powerplants that now account for approximately one third of the company's sales. Today, the Lycoming factory produces the most complete line of horizontally opposed, air-cooled, four-, six- and eight-cylinder engines available with power ranging from 100 to 400 hp. In addition, the company provides factory-engineered replacement parts that meet Lycoming's exacting original equipment specifications.

Textron Inc. is a $10-billion, multi-industry company with more than 43,000 employees in 40 countries. The company leverages its global network of businesses to provide customers with innovative solutions and services in industries such as aircraft, fastening systems, industrial products, industrial components and finance. Textron is known around the world for its powerful brands such as Bell Helicopter, Cessna Aircraft, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO and Greenlee, among others.

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