Cessna Debuts Second Diesel-powered Single

 - July 29, 2014, 10:00 AM
Textron Aviation vice presidents Kriya Shortt and Joe Hepburn introduce the diesel-powered Cessna Turbo Skyhawk JT-A.

Textron Aviation’s Cessna subsidiary announced yesterday that it is adding to its investments in diesel engine technology, with the new diesel-powered Turbo Skyhawk JT-A joining the single-engine product line. The Skyhawk JT-A is on display at the Textron pavilion this week at EAA AirVenture 2014.

Cessna’s Skylane JT-A uses Safran’s SMA diesel engine and is currently flying with FAA test pilots. About two weeks of flight-testing and documentation remain to be done, said Joe Hepburn, Textron Aviation senior vice president of piston aircraft. “We’re really close” to certification of the diesel Turbo Skylane JT-A, he added. “The program is quite close to completion.”

The Skyhawk JT-A program is somewhat simpler because the engine being used–the turbocharged, 155-hp Continental Motors Centurion CD-155–is already STC’d for the Cessna 172. Companies such as Redbird and Premier Aircraft Sales are already installing Centurion diesels in used Skyhawks. The Turbo Skyhawk JT-A, however, will be a new airplane with a Garmin G1000 flight deck. Retail price will be $435,000 when it is certified and begins deliveries in 2015, according to Hepburn, which is $65,000 more than the similarly equipped 180-hp Lycoming avgas-powered Skyhawk.

The chief advantage of diesel power is much better jet fuel availability in countries where avgas is expensive and either unavailable or available only rarely. For the Skyhawk JT-A, the advantages also include a maximum cruise speed of 131 ktas versus 124 ktas, a 25-percent increase in fuel efficiency during training operations and a 58-percent maximum range increase, to 1,012 nm.

Cessna also announced that the first production Citation CJ3+ made its first flight in Wichita on July 28. Equipped with the Garmin G3000 flight deck, the CJ3+ is expected to receive FAA certification this quarter, according to Kriya Shortt, Textron Aviation senior vice president of sales and marketing. A CJ3+ is one of the Cessna jets on display at AirVenture, along with the Mustang and M2.

The speedy single-engine Cessna TTx now has new interior and exterior enhancements, part of the “Surge” package announced yesterday at AirVenture. The package features a new paint scheme, two-tone leather seat covers and personalized canopy cover, engine inlet plugs and floor and wingwalk mats. Although not part of the Surge package, the TTx is now fitted with a McCauley Blackmac C447 aluminum propeller as standard. This propeller is required for the TTx’s optional flight-into-known-icing certification.

A new optional seating configuration is now available for the Cessna 206 Stationair, allowing owners to rearrange the interior for two, three or four passengers, including a four-seat club configuration. The ability to move the seats easily is because seat belts are attached to the seats and not to the cabin structure. New rear-seat rails are also part of the seat reconfiguration scheme. The seating option also includes new leather covers for the front seats, new middle- and aft-row seats, the new aft-cabin seat rails and new interior panels, LED lighting, overhead ducting, vents, carpet, USB ports, blackout window reveals and Luxor II leather appointments with monogrammed headrests.

Meanwhile, the Textron Aviation team isn’t ignoring the Beechcraft product line, which is well represented at the company’s AirVenture pavilion. “We will continue to invest on [the G36 and G58 models],” said Hepburn.

Between the Cessna and Beechcraft brands, Textron Aviation delivered 240 turboprops during 2013, according to Shortt. “Turboprops remain a sizable focus for Textron Aviation,” she said. The company is also celebrating the 50th anniversary of the King Air this year, and at 1 p.m. on July 30 the celebration kicks off at the Textron exhibit.

Only five months have elapsed since the Cessna and Beechcraft brands were integrated under Textron Aviation and no plans have been announced to bring a new single-engine turboprop to market. “We continue to evaluate the market and intend to put into production new products that customers will find value in,” said Christi Tannahill, Textron Aviation’s senior vice president of turboprop aircraft.

Visitors to the Textron exhibit can hone their skills during a “test flight” in the TRU Simulation + Training Citation CJ3 simulator that the company is using to highlight the simulation division’s technology. Formed after Textron’s acquisition of simulator manufacturer Opinicus in November 2013 and Montreal-based Mechtronix last December, the TRU division is slated to add new training centers based on the design of recently acquired ProFlight, a Cessna CitationJet and Conquest training provider based in Carlsbad, Calif.