Unlike the turbine engines that currently dominate helicopter use, Eurocopter is actually considering using piston engines that run on diesel fuel. To make that a reality, though, the company needs to shave some weight off of current diesel engines, as light weight is of paramount concern for helicopter use. The benefits, though, could be huge: "Specific fuel consumption is cut by 40 percent," Oliver Jouis, head of environmental affairs at Eurocopter told Wired.
In addition to the obvious benefits of guzzling less fuel, Eurocopter says that diesels – buoyed by the addition of a turbocharger, as is usually the case with road-going diesels – would perform better at high altitudes that traditional turbines. One possibility is the innovative two-stroke, opposed-piston diesel from EcoMotors International.