Cessna 182 JT-A Certification ‘Imminent’

** Cessna 182 JT-A** Stephen Pope

Despite experiencing two in-flight engine failures during the months-long test program, Cessna says all development issues related to the Safran SMA diesel engine in the 182 JT-A have been resolved and certification is "weeks away."

The 182 JT-A test airplane with the new jet-A-burning SMA compression-ignition engine suffered an emergency engine failure in August that was traced to a development issue related to the turbocharger. The test pilot of the airplane was unhurt after performing a deadstick landing in a Kansas farm field. Weeks later Cessna flew the airplane to try to replicate the conditions that led to the engine failure – and succeeded. This time, the test pilot was flying directly over Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport and was able to make an uneventful glide and touchdown on the runway.

Joe Hepburn, Textron Aviation senior vice president in charge of piston products, said the development issue has been identified and fixed and the engine has been test flown extensively since, and in a "much more abusive way." The end result, he said, is an engine that 182 JT-A buyers can be confident in as Cessna gears up for initial deliveries this summer.

"The 182 JT-A is the key in the Cessna piston line right now and we're excited to introduce it to the market," Hepburn said. "There was a crowd around the airplane [at Sun 'n Fun in Lakeland, Florida] this morning and I heard four different languages being spoken."

Cessna views the $515,000 Turbo Skylane JT-A as an important product for growing world markets where avgas is expensive or hard to find. The 227 horsepower SMA engine burns 11 gallons per hour, or about 30 to 40 percent less fuel than comparable avgas engines. Estimated range at max cruise speed is an 1,025 nm. The certified ceiling will be 20,000 feet, while estimated useful load is 1,018 pounds.

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