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ULPower, FADEC Safety

Formed in 2006, ULPOWER Aero Engines is a small Belgian company which started as a joint venture by a number of individuals and companies. Their intention is to develop and manufacture a light weight aero engine where power and reliability is priority number one.

FADEC stands for Full Authority Digital Engine Control. In the case of ULPower it means that the ECU (Engine Control Unit - digital computer) controls all aspects of engine operation and decides on the timing and amount of fuel it injects into the inlet ports as well as the exact timing of the spark advance.

A very important advantage of computerized fuel injection is that it fully eliminates the risk of carburetor icing, as there is none! According to the General Aviation Safety Council in the UK, carburetor icing causes on a yearly average 6 to 10 accidents with serious injuries or fatalities (in the UK alone!).

Single lever control

FADEC reduces a pilot's engine management tasks to simply selecting the desired power setting through a single control. You can now forget about managing the engine and focus on flying. You must admit that the recreational pilot doesn't really want all the hassle, but just wants to enjoy flying.

With just the throttle to adjust, there is certainly less risk for the pilot (and certainly less experienced ones) to forget something (for example applying carburetor heat) or do something wrong such as flooding the carburetor on startup or leaning it too much and possibly damaging the engine.

The precise and immediate reaction of the FADEC to any change in engine operation results in a much better throttle response, stable RPM and lower fuel consumption; a feature all pilots certainly will appreciate.

Cleaner installation

ULPOWER UL350 Aero EngineULPOWER UL350 Aero Engine
ULPOWER UL350 Aero Engine

As the ECU is factory programmed, the whole installation is just a matter of plug and play. You can forget about fiddling around with the carburetor needle to try and get the jetting and idle RPM right. And certainly eliminate all the hassle of synchronizing carburetors (and try keeping them in sync) if you have two carburetors installed on an engine such as on the Rotax 9xx series.

Since the engines are single lever controlled, there are less cables to install and the usual heat box for the carburetor heat can also be eliminated. Less knobs/handles also give a cleaner dashboard and a reduced pilot workload as a result.

Safety features

Something that can't be achieved with a carburetor is that the engine controlled by its ECU has a builtin electronic RPM limiter that protects the engine from over revving. People experimenting with the pitch on a (ground adjustable) variable pitch propeller, accidental engine starts without a propeller, or even propellers disintegrating in flight can all be reasons why an engine could unintentionally over rev and cause severe internal engine damage.

Another safety feature built into the ECU is that it controls the electric fuel pump. If the engine stops, it will shutoff the fuel pump automatically. This is not only done so the pilot can't forget to switch it on/off, but primarily to reduce the risk of fire in the event of a crash. If the fuel would not be shutoff immediately, fuel leaks and continuing fuel circulation under pressure could cause fire and the hazard of explosion.


With single lever control and FADEC taking care of all of the engine management tasks, the risk of pilot error is much reduced. As human error is still large factor in many accidents ULPower believes any FADEC controlled engine will increase safety in general in any ULpowered aircraft.

Text adapted and used with permission of ULpower.

written by EAI.

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