On Thursday, December 17, 1903, the Wright brothers celebrated flight with their piston-powered aircraft, and since that very day piston engines have successfully powered aircraft up to and including modern sport to business aircraft.
Over 100 years later, light airplanes are still being powered by reciprocating piston engines; including the Continental, Lycoming and Rotax engine, either with a turbo or no turbo, powering either a single or twin-propeller which provides the thrust to move the aircraft.
Piston aircraft are far less complex than their turboprop counterparts and offer a lower cost of entry over other aircraft types.
The majority of piston powered aircraft fly relatively short missions of 300-400 miles, using general aviation airports and landing strips. Therein is the unique advantage of piston powered aircraft: low cost, simpler maintenance; and short takeoff and landing distances.
Examples of their use includes for pleasure, charter, air-taxi, aerial, farming and corporate travel.
Today the piston-powered aircraft market includes over 70 manufacturers of aircraft. Manufacturers of piston-driven airplanes include the following companies: