I want to build an ultralight within the 115kg preload (US standard). Can I use and engine with the specifications below? My weight is around 63kg.

Rated output: 13.4kW(18HP)@3600RPM

  • $\begingroup$ What does that engine weight? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 11:00
  • $\begingroup$ Related: Is it possible to fly using a small engine? $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 11:02
  • $\begingroup$ The Wright Flyer flew with a 12 HP engine. $\endgroup$
    – Adam
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ I think this answer provides an answer. Thus I'm tempted to flag the question as a dup. $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 19:19

1 Answer 1


The earliest ultralights (hang gliders with add-on engines) used engines with as little as six horsepower (about 4 kW), possibly smaller. That said, these aircraft were originally built as foot-launched gliders, and even so had safety issues and many incidents due to poor climb rates.

The main requirements for the engine in an ultralight are climb performance (which translates directly into takeoff acceleration) and reliability. With the correct propeller and acceptable dry weight, an 18 hp (13.5 kW) engine might be acceptable, but every additional kilo of engine mass (compared to engines built for lightness) is one less kilo of structure, and the RPM figure given seems to point to a four-stroke engine, which will generally be heavy for its power output as compared to the two-stroke type.

Four-stroke engines have been used in larger aircraft for more than a century, but those are mostly engines designed and purpose-built for aircraft use. An engine designed for garden or yard equipment, generator, or compressor service will usually be heavier. You'll have more trouble finding an optimized propeller for 3600 rpm than for 5500, in that power range.

In the end, if that's a cast iron four-stroke engine, it's unlikely you'll make your overall dry mass budget to stay within US Part 103 requirements without compromising structure, and you're likely to see performance issues with minimal power and maximum takeoff weight.

  • $\begingroup$ thank you sir, thats really helpful. $\endgroup$
    – syed
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 13:27
  • $\begingroup$ A good example of an early and underpowered design was the Weedhopper, which was often equipped with cast off engines and had a bad reputation. The design came into its own when it received the 26 hp Royal 228 and has since sold some 13,000 examples. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 20:18

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