BY KATIE MATTESON
Racine has a well-established reputation for innovation and industry disruption. And for locals who think that the community’s heyday is a thing of the past, think again.
DeltaHawk Engines Inc. is in the process of revolutionizing general aviation with its development of a compression-ignition engine that, once certified, will be among the smallest, lightest, most fuel efficient and reliable multi-fuel engines on the market.
This homegrown company, founded in 1996 by Doug and Diane Doers and JP and Jeanne Brooks, is located in a quiet Northside industrial park adjacent to Batten International Airport.
While company owners became a fixture at the annual EAA AirVenture event in Oshkosh, it was the purchase of controlling interest in the company by the Ruud family in 2015 that has brought the engine from R&D to the brink of full-scale production in four short years.
CEO Christopher Ruud explained that after the sale of Ruud Lighting to Cree in 2011, he and his father, Al Ruud, were looking for investment opportunities when Doug Doers and Dennis Webb, the company’s director of marketing & certification, asked for a meeting.
Doers and Webb were aware that the Ruuds were aviation enthusiasts and had a track record of disrupting the lighting industry.
“It was a great match,” Christopher Ruud, 47, said. “I was too young to retire anyway.”
Under Ruud’s leadership, the company has grown from three employees in 2015 to 43 employees today. Most of the staff are engineers and technicians, who are working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on the design certification process.
Webb explained that the FAA, while responsible for overseeing the testing of all the components and the final product, has been very supportive throughout the process.
“Obviously, they are charged with [aviation] safety and following regulations, which they do, but they are also as excited as we are about this new technology and what it will bring to aviation,” Webb said.
Along with monitoring the certification process, Ruud and Webb are concurrently leading efforts to build the company’s supplier network and readying the 72,000 square-foot facility for production.
Investment in the plant includes a new state-of-the-art dynamometer testing facility (with both water-brake and propeller dynamometers), extensive investment in data acquisition and analysis systems, new high-tech modern offices and labs (including recently finished renovations on the second floor to accommodate the growing workforce), new state-of-the-art labs (including Coordinate Measuring Machines, Optical Comparator and other metrology equipment) and a new clean room for final assembly.
Ruud noted that he’s a big believer in Wisconsin and knows that Racine is the perfect place for DeltaHawk to thrive. “A very important factor for a manufacturer is access to and availability of a skilled workforce, and Racine is an excellent resource.”
DeltaHawk’s engines, which can be installed into new aircraft and drones, as well as retrofit into older planes, address the mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency for the general aviation industry to transition away from leaded aviation gasoline, which has already become unavailable in many other countries.
DeltaHawk’s 160 to 200 hp engines burn either diesel or Jet-A fuel, which is widely available worldwide and are 40 percent more efficient than gasoline engines for improved range, higher non-fuel payload and lower cost of ownership.
Other features and benefits include:
- Direct-Drive, No Gearbox for high reliability, lower maintenance
- Air, Fuel and Cooling Redundancies for high reliability and safety
- Low Parts Count for reduced maintenance, reduced downtime and lower cost of ownership
- Smaller Size, improved packaging and lower aerodynamic drag
- Reduced Weight, greater payload
Ruud said that there’s plenty of early demand from the general aviation community and great anticipation for completion to the FAA’s two-part certification process.
The Type Certification for the engine design and parts expected this year.
After the Type Certification is in place, production can begin while the FAA continues to monitor the processes and quality. Production Certification is expected in 2020, which is when the world can expect an innovative Racine
company to again disrupt an industry.
For more information, visit deltahawk.com.