New Diesel-Powered Cessna 172 Skyhawk Certified by EASA and FAA

By Douglas Royce, Senior Aerospace Analyst, Forecast International.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have certified a new version of the Cessna 172 Skyhawk powered by a diesel engine, the Turbo Skyhawk JT-A.  Deliveries to customers in Europe and the U.S. will begin soon. 

The Turbo Skyhawk JT-A is a factory option that includes an integrated powerplant, propeller and cockpit upgrade package that boosts the standard Skyhawk’s performance. Textron says that the switch to the Continental CD-155 engine reduces fuel burn by 25 percent and extends the aircraft’ range to 963 nautical miles, a 50 percent increase over the standard Skyhawk.  Maximum speed increases to 134 knots, and max climb rate to 767 feet per minute.  It also reduces takeoff distance to 1,320 feet and improves takeoff performance in hot and high conditions.

The 155-hp turbodiesel Continental CD-155 features direct fuel injection and a dual-channel Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) driven by a single power lever. The engine burns globally available Jet-A fuel, allowing owners to bypass the difficulty of finding avgas at facilities outside North America. Other improvements include Garmin’s G1000 NXi avionics system with wireless connectivity and an Angle-of-Attack display system.

Production of the four- to five-seat Skyhawk has averaged around 120 aircraft per year since the last recession.  Introduction of the new model will likely improve sales.  Flight schools will benefit from the diesel powerplant’s improved fuel efficiency, and, given the widespread availability of Jet-A fuel at air fields around the world, the new engine option will help sell the Skyhawk in export markets where avgas is difficult to find.

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