Plane & Pilot
Saturday, April 1, 2006

Diesel Skylane


A viable alternative to avgas has arrived


Diesel SkylaneIf you fly a typical general-aviation airplane, you probably can’t imagine a world without avgas. I fly a Mooney with a four-cylinder, 200 hp Lycoming, and there’s currently no alternative engine available. For me and for thousands of other aircraft owners, the thought of avgas becoming obsolete is simply inconceivable.

 

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In other words, the total weight penalty in a Skylane converted to use jet fuel is about 127 pounds. Fortunately, the Skylane hardly notices the difference, and performance benefits more than offset the reduction in payload.

It’s important to note that because the SMA Skylane burns so little fuel, partial fueling may become the rule rather than the exception. No need to tanker a full 88 gallons around all the time. Remember, even a relatively long, five-hour leg will require only half tanks, so there’s little reason to operate with a full 590 pounds of fuel aboard on every takeoff. Fly with only 50 gallons in the tanks and you can increase payload by a considerable 255 pounds.

In-flight handling of the 182 doesn’t change a whit, though just as with a jet, everything becomes notably smoother. You’re still flying a Cessna 182, even if it’s a Skylane with a very different personality. Stall remains down in the mid-40-knot range, and the airplane handles with all the wonderful flight characteristics we’ve come to know and love.

Diesels are coming. There’s no question that you’ll be seeing more diesel powerplants in general-aviation airplanes within a few years. You don’t have to be a long-haul trucker wheeling down Interstate 15 in your Peterbilt or Freightliner to appreciate the benefits.

Besides, now you’ll have the advantage of telling your friends you’re flying a jet—sort of.

For additional information on SMA, visit their website at www.smaengines.com.

SPECS: Cessna 182 SMA Diesel Skylane





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