DeltaHawk Gains Type Certification on Jet-Fueled Piston Powerplant

The ‘upside down’ DHK180 has been in development for more than two decades.

DeltaHawk’s DHK180 is configured in an inverted “V” with mechanical fuel injection and liquid cooling. [Credit: DeltaHawk]

It’s been more than a decade in the making, but now the “upside down” DeltaHawk engine has arrived. The company announced Thursday that its DeltaHawk DHK180 piston powerplant—set to run on jet-A—has gained FAA type certification after a significant period of development.

The liquid-cooled,180 hp, 4-cylinder diesel engine uses an inverted “V” configuration and mechanical fuel injection, along with a slimmer design expected to fit more efficiently into modern aircraft cowling. It’s turbocharged and supercharged, direct drive, and has been assembled with 40 percent fewer parts than other engines in its class.

“We began by completely reimagining what a general aviation engine should be,” said Christopher Ruud, DeltaHawk’s CEO. “And the result is that we now have a certified engine that is a game-changer. It’s been a long time coming but, in engineering, simple is hard. However, this engine’s performance, simplicity, and reliability have made it worth the time and the investment, as it is truly ‘power reimagined.’”

A Long Road to TC

It’s not easy or cheap to bring a new powerplant into the GA market, and the DeltaHawk story proves this to be true once again. Few new designs have surfaced in the past 60 years.

The DHK180 stems from the DH180 originally on display at EAA AirVenture 2014 on a Cirrus SR20. After the Ruud family took controlling ownership in 2016, the path toward certification became clearer: The 180 hp variant showed up at Oshkosh in 2019, also on the SR20, and at that time DeltaHawk expected certification by the end of that year. With a little delay—and pandemic induced slowdowns—the engine has now acquired the TC it needs to move into the production phase.

Good things come to those who persevere, however. According to the company, it has had interest from potential suitors from kit builders to the military—even from NASA to power its Subsonic Single Aft Engine Aircraft (SUSAN) scale flight test vehicle.

DeltaHawk expects to deliver the first of its production DHK180s in 2024.

Based in Maryland, Julie is an editor, aviation educator, and author. She holds an airline transport pilot certificate with Douglas DC-3 and CE510 (Citation Mustang) type ratings. She's a CFI/CFII since 1993, specializing in advanced aircraft and flight instructor development. Follow Julie on Twitter @julieinthesky.

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