American Champion Aircraft (ACA) announced on Wednesday at AirVenture that it would offer a diesel-powered version of its Denali Scout two-seat utility model, likely by 2016. The aircraft is currently powered by a 210-hp Lycoming IO-390.
ACA vice president Jerry Mehlhaff Jr. said the company would offer the 2.0 liter, 180-hp Austro E4 (marketed as the AE300)–an engine certified to power several models of Diamond Aircraft–in the Scout as a way of substantially increasing its range from 700 nm to 1,200 nm, and to make the aircraft more attractive to markets where 100LL fuel is either absent, scarce or prohibitively expensive. The increased range comes from the E4’s lower specific fuel consumption–half that of the IO-390–and better performance at altitude. The E4 (1,500 TBO) maintains full power to 10,000 feet. While a firm price for the diesel engine option has not been set, Mehlhaff said he expects it to add approximately $40,000 to the price of Denali Scout, which currently retails for $275,000 typically equipped.
The E4 will add approximately 35 pounds to the aircraft. Mehlhaff said the aircraft as currently configured should be able to easily accept the engine with some minor changes including “maybe re-indexing the tail.” Economy cruise setting is 2000 rpm and red line will be 2300 rpm. The aircraft will be fitted with a composite propeller. Major scheduled maintenance events on the E4 include replacing the high-pressure pump at 600 hours and checking alternator brushes at 300 hours. An Austro spokesman said they are working on increasing the engine’s TBO to 1,800 hours.
Mehlhaff said his company produced 30 aircraft last year. The majority were aerobatic Decathlon models. He said adding the E4 to the Scout is a way to differentiate it from other utility bush planes such as the Husky and the Super Cub, “to escape the 100 low-lead trap” and boost exports.
“We have a customer in India with a Scout; he uses it for banner towing. The airplane is based at a large major airport, but there is no 100LL available, so he has to truck it in in 55-gallon drums. It’s those kinds of guys I’m targeting with the diesel engine,” he said. “The ability to get fuel anywhere is the key.”
“Now you will have a jet-A burning bush plane. You’ll be able to go farther before you get lost and stuck,” Mehlhaff joked.