Diesel Trainer Market Booming in China

Demand for pilot training fuels growth.

China Flight School

China Flight School

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Training airplanes powered by fuel-efficient compression ignition diesel engines are catching on in a big way in China, where the burgeoning GA infrastructure favors jet-A fuel rather than 100LL avgas.

In the latest move to diesel power, the Xinjiang Tianxiang Flight School in northwest China is doubling its fleet of Diamond DA40 trainers to 30 airplanes. They are powered by Continental's CD-135 diesel.

The expansion isn't surprising considering that the school's current diesel DA40s have been averaging an incredible 13 hours per day in the air – equating to more than 13,500 hours for the fleet in the last year.

With a recommended TBO of 1,500 hours, engine replacement will be a key part of the school's strategy. To gain knowledge about maintaining its Diamond fleet, the school's mechanics recently visited Continental's engine factory in Germany.

The CD-135 four-cylinder turbodiesel engine produces 135 horsepower with similar performance to higher-horsepower naturally aspirated gasoline engines. Where the diesels really shine, of course, is in their fuel efficiency. Throttled back for long-range cruise, the CD-135 burns less than four gallons of jet-A per hour.

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