Cessna Launches Diesel-Powered Skyhawk

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There's no hint that avgas is going away anytime soon in the United States at least, but in much of the rest of the world the stuff has gone over the past decade from merely expensive to outrageously so. On the other hand, kerosene-based fuels, jet-A and diesel, have held the price line much better while remaining in abundant supply. One answer is putting diesel engines in piston airplanes, and Cessna has taken a big step toward that model with the introduction of a diesel-powered Skyhawk.

The Skyhawk TD (for turbodiesel) will feature the Thielert Centurion 2.0 diesel engine, the same powerplant that's standard equipment in Diamond's DA42 TwinStar. As in that airplane, in the Skyhawk, the 2.0 installation will feature full authority digital engine control (fadec) with single-lever power control and a three-blade composite MT prop. The diesel will offer lower direct operating costs-8 percent in the United States and up to 32 percent internationally, claims Cessna-quieter operation and simplified engine operation, including immunity to shock cooling.

The Thielert in the Skyhawk TD will be rated at 155 hp, so the performance numbers for the TD will be lower than those for the 180 hp Skyhawk SP. But it will sip at the fuel, burning a miserly 7.4 gph at 85 percent power, nearly three gallons per hour less than the gas-burning Skyhawk, and its performance as it climbs, as it's turbocharged, will be superior to that of the nominally more powerful Skyhawk SP.