WHAT is thought to be the country's first environment - friendly aircraft engine, which uses a range of bio-degradable fuels, has been launched in Durban.
The engine was demonstrated at Virginia Airport recently by a group of KwaZulu-Natal engineers responsible for production and design.
The project took seven years to complete. The engineering team completed the task despite financial difficulties, since companies were reluctant to fund them as a result of a lack of knowledge about aviation.
It was the Department of Science and Technology and that contributed to the historic successes by sponsoring the project with R10,2million to help the engineers.
"It was a passion-driven task," said engineer Charles Schoeman.
He said the engine was used on a light aircraft named the South Africa R500, which was also designed and developed in the country.
Schoeman praised their achievement as a team but noted the growing competition from international aviation companies.
"We are in talks with DST's Technology Innovation Agency and Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal for funds to establish full production," Schoeman said.
"Through investment in local research and development, it is fair to say ADEPT is providing a catalyst for a world class aviation manufacturing industry."
Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal are supporting the initiative.
Spokesperson Sizwe Mbanjwa said their objectives were to help the engineers' company ADEPT to seek funding so they could build a foundry where they will be able to produce the engines in masses.
"We are only involved with the commercialising of the engine company," said Mbanjwa.
"We want to help raise funds for the company so that they could produce engines in numbers depending on orders."