Introducing Cessna’s Skyhawk TD
After an extensive market survey and rigorous flight testing, Cessna Aircraft Company has made the announcement that, from mid-2008, the Skyhawk 172S airplane will be available fitted with a turbo diesel engine. The new Skyhawk TD (turbo diesel) will feature a Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) equipped Thielert Centurion 2.0 liter engine to drive a composite three-blade constant speed propeller. This DOHC (dual overhead camshaft) four-cylinder inline turbo-charged engine develops 155 horsepower, is liquid cooled and certified to run on Jet-A fuel.
With more than 43,000 sold, the Skyhawk is reputed to be the best-selling and most-flown airplane ever. The Skyhawk TD opens up the market even further because of the world-wide availability of Jet-A fuel. Cessna will install the turbo diesel engines at its factory in Independence, Kansas, under the FAA supplementary type certificated (STC) held by Thielert. The Thielert engine features electronic engine control systems, low specific fuel consumption and improved hot-and-high engine performance.
Over and above lower fuel costs, the Skyhawk TD offers pilots numerous benefits, including improved engine performance, simplified engine management and outstanding reliability. With the manufacture of the Skyhawk TD, Cessna Aircraft Company will incorporate standard aircraft design changes in order to ensure simple installation of the engine while facilitating full Sound Transmission Class (STC) integration. This new development does not come as a complete surprise in aviation circles, as Aero-News.Net reported in June 2007 that Cessna was collaborating with Germany’s Thielert Aircraft Engines GmbH future with projects focusing on the Thielert diesel engine.
There is no shortage of aviation gasoline (avgas) in the United States. For this reason Cessna management had expected to get their biggest response to the new Skyhawk TD from countries outside the United States that experience problems with avgas supply. However, they have received a positive response from dealers in the domestic market that is proving to be far beyond their initial expectations.
The Skyhawk TD has increased range and endurance, making it particularly suitable for special applications such as wildlife conservation, forestry patrol, pipeline and power line patrol, airborne law enforcement and traffic reporting. The new Skyhawk will also include Garmin’s integrated GFC700 autopilot. No doubt many pilots are already planning to upgrade to the Skyhawk TD when it becomes commercially available.